IBM Upgrades zEnterprise Cloud Mainframe
IBM has launched a new and more powerful zEnterprise mainframe system, boasting enhanced cloud security
IBM has enhanced its big iron portfolio, after announcing a new mainframe system, the zEnterprise EC12 mainframe server.
Big Blue calls its new mainframe the most powerful and technologically advanced version of an IBM system that has been the linchpin of enterprise computing for 48 years.
The new enterprise system, unveiled on 28 August, features technologies that demonstrate IBM’s ongoing commitment to meet the growing need to secure and manage critical information with the System z mainframe, David Balog, IBM’s general manager for System z, told eWEEK.
“The new system has 25 percent more performance and 50 percent more capacity than its predecessor,” he said.
Mainframes support significant portions of the data environment at most large enterprises, IBM said. As these enterprises grapple with the well-documented growth of data, they are looking for new ways to secure and gain insights from such critical information as financial, customer and enterprise resource data that will enable them to provide their clients with new services. The new zEC12 offers enhanced security and robust support for operational analytics that can help clients efficiently sift through large volumes of raw data and transform it to gain knowledge that can be used for competitive advantage. For example, a retailer managing online transactions on zEC12 can gain insights from client information that will enable it to provide clients with a more customised shopping experience.
The IBM zEC12 enterprise system is the result of an investment by IBM Systems and Technology Group of more than $1 billion (£632m) in IBM research and development primarily in Poughkeepsie, NY, as well as 17 other IBM labs around the world and in collaboration with some of IBM’s top clients, Balog said.
The new IBM mainframe is one of the most secure enterprise systems ever, with built-in security features designed to meet the security and compliance requirements of different industries, he said. With operational analytics and near real-time workload monitoring and analysis, clients can use the new zEC12 for a variety of workloads leveraging the world’s fastest chip running at 5.5 GHz, IBM said.
Security is paramount in the new system. IBM System z is a leading platform for secure data serving and has achieved Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 5+ security classification, enabling enterprises to run many different applications containing confidential data on a single mainframe. The new zEC12 builds on this.
zEC12 includes a tamper-resistant cryptographic co-processor called Crypto Express4S that provides privacy for transactions and sensitive data. Crypto Express4S includes new hardware and software developed with IBM Research to help meet the security requirements of different industries and geographies. For example, it can be configured to provide support for high-quality digital signatures used with applications for Smart passports, national ID cards and online legal proceedings, replacing handwritten signatures as directed by the EU and the public sector, IBM said.
Meanwhile, zEC12 advances performance for analytics, increasing performance of analytic workloads by 30 percent compared to its IBM predecessor, Balog said. In addition, support for the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator that incorporates the Netezza data warehouse appliance into zEC12 enables clients to run complex business analytics and operational analytics on the same platform.
Balog added that the new mainframe also offers IT systems analytics capabilities based on technology from IBM Research. It analyses internal system messages to provide a near real-time view of the system’s health, including any potential problems. Called IBM zAware, the technology learns from the messages to recognize patterns and quickly pinpoint any deviations, using the information to identify unusual system behaviour and minimise its impact. IBM STG Lab Services will offer services to help with planning, configuration and implementation of IBM zAware.
“This is where transaction processing is going – there are more and more analytics going into the system,” Balog said.
In addition, users can consolidate thousands of distributed systems on to Linux on zEC12, lowering IT operating expenses associated with energy use, floor space and software licensing. zEC12 can offer a low total cost of acquisition for Linux consolidation of database workloads. One zEC12 can encompass the capacity of an entire multi-platform data centre in a single system.
And another key innovation for the system is that zEC12 is the first IBM mainframe to include internal solid state technology with Flash Express, a new memory technology that can help improve the performance of data intensive applications or workloads where optimal service levels are vital such as customer facing or service applications used by banks, public sector companies and retailers, Balog said. It is designed to provide improved availability during bursts of system activity experienced at transitional periods such as when financial markets open or holiday periods when online retail transactions are heavy.
Moreover, enterprises can also opt to run zEC12 without a raised data centre floor — a first for high-end IBM mainframes. With new overhead power and cabling support, clients have more flexibility on where zEC12 is deployed. This can increase the appeal of System z for enterprise clients in growth markets, where System z revenue was up 11 percent year to year in the second quarter of 2012, according to IBM earnings reports.
Also, zEC12 is the first general purpose IBM server to incorporate transactional memory technology, first used commercially to help make the IBM Blue Gene/Q-based “Sequoia” system at Lawrence Livermore National Lab the fastest supercomputer in the world. In zEC12, IBM adapted this technology to enable software to better support concurrent operations that use a shared set of data such as financial institutions processing transactions against the same set of accounts.
“We continue to drive innovation on System z, allowing a broader set of clients to apply its leadership capabilities in security and resiliency to the current demands of their business, be they from analytics, cloud or mobile computing,” Balog said in a statement. “Our end-to-end design approach for smarter computing – from processors to systems to software optimisation – is targeted to handle complicated business challenges associated with managing, protecting and analysing a client’s most critical information. It’s what makes the mainframe the ultimate enterprise system.”
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