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September 12, 2019updated 13 Sep 2019 8:35am

IBM’s Latest Mainframe Loses Fat, Gains Muscle, Has a More Open Mind

"The mainframe is dead, long live the mainframe"

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM’s latest mainframe has landed.

The z15 mainframe is both slimmer and more muscular than its predecessor the z14, with a 19″ frame width against the z14’s 24″ width.

It now packs up to 190 configurable cores, against its predecessor’s 170, and can be upgraded to house a colossal 40TB of memory.

IBM says the z15 system can execute up to 1 trillion secure web transactions per day and is capable of running 2.4 million containers on a single system.

(Those touting the death of the mainframe will find this easier said than done on a rack of commodity servers; though plenty are trying, as they seek to avoid onerous legacy licensing terms, dodge a shortage of COBOL experts as they look to retire old hardware, and move to hybrid cloud environments).

Read this: Swisscom Dumps Mainframes for Private Cloud – Cuts IT Costs 60%

IBM has tried to tackle anti-mainframe momentum with new “tailored fit” pricing, which includes the option to run its mainframes using cloud-like usage-based licensing model under which compute is measured on the basis of MSUs consumed, which removes the need for manual or automated capping.

It has also, via an industry effort called Zowe, opened up the platform via a web user interface (UI) that provides a virtual desktop containing a number of apps allowing access to z/OS function, and an API gateway that acts as a reverse proxy for z/OS services, together with a catalogue of REST APIs.

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IBM said the z15 “culminates four years of development with over 3,000 IBM Z patents issued or in process” and involved input from over 100 companies.

The behemoth delivers 30 times lower latency and up to 28 times less CPU utilisation on z15 versus a NGINX 1.15.9 web server by compressing secure web transaction data before encryption using a unique technique to compress transaction data before encryption rather than using software compression.

Among the new Z15 mainframe’s selling points are so-called data privacy passports IBM said; encryption that provides protections that move with data whether it is being transfered to an x86 server, phone, or Internet of Things device. That offering is now available in beta on the IBM z15 and LinuxONE III

The mainframe supports the following Operating Systems:

  • z/OS® V2.4, 2.3, 2.2
  • Linux on Z (IBM’s partners are Red Hat, Canonical and SUSE)
  • z/VM® 7.1 ,6.4
  • z/VSE® V6.2
  • z/TPF 1.1
  • KVM hypervisor for IBM Z (offered by Linux distribution partners)

Oliver Presland, VP, global product management at Ensono said in an emailed comment: “For a long time, commentators have predicted the demise of the mainframe, but we actually see our enterprise clients are continuing to embrace them as part of a hybrid approach to infrastructure. It’s not hard to see why.

“Everything that mainframe is renowned for, from security to reliability, versatility to performance – makes them as relevant today as they have ever been… IDC reports global spending on mainframes was $3.57 billion in 2017, and it expects the market will still command $2.8 billion in spending annually by 2022.”

IBM hopes to woo those wary of a mainframe skills shortage and being locked into z/OS-based applications by integrating Red Hat OpenShift tooling. The company says this will mean cloud developers can deploy z/OS applications using OpenShift with no special Z skills required, as it continues a drive to containerise growing swathes of IBM software.

Read this: IBM Says 100+ of its Software Offerings Will Now Run on Any Cloud

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