IBM System z9 – the secure, scalable and resilient Enterprise solution in a box

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Content Copyright © 2005 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

In my last article I wrote about IBM’s adoption of a ‘Systems’ approach to delivering solutions to its customer base. Today I will look at one of the first, easily identified instantiations – the IBM System z9 mainframe. The System z9 deliberately avoids following the naming convention adopted by IBM for its existing eServer zSeries servers and a close look at the System z9 shows that much more than just a name change is heralded with its launch.

The System z9 brings together advances not just in the core hardware of the mainframe but also encompasses significant developments in the operating system, z/OS v 1.7, security and many other areas. IBM declares that the System z9 will deliver even better price performance than existing mainframes. All told, the new range accounts for more than .2 billion of research and development effort and has taken over three years to bring to market.

This new generation of mainframes is designed to both scale and be extremely reliable. When it comes to scalability the first model in the range, a fully spec’d IBM System z9-109, will be capable of handling over one billion transactions a day – more than double that of the current IBM eServer z990. The System z9 family will initially present 5 models offering between 1 and 54 processors and will handle up to 512 Gigabytes of memory. I/O bandwidth is improved by up to eighty percent.

In terms of flexibility, the IBM z9-109 will be able to handle up to 60 LPARs (logical partitions) – once again twice that of the current top of the range IBM eServer z990 – making it simple to host many hundreds of virtual machines. System z9 will, moreover, host a new version of IBM’s Virtualisation Engine and be capable of the most sophisticated workload management of any server platform. Operating system support naturally will include z/OS, z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF and Linux.

However, whilst the performance and resilience characteristics are formidable, it is the security features that are likely to attract most attention. The System z9 has been built on top of the security platform that is the mainframe. The System boasts a range of updated and new security features that push system security to a whole new level. The mainframe can now act as a centralised repository of encryption keys to facilitate security management. Beyond this, the System z9 can utilise Crypto Express2 PCI-X adapters as accelerators to handle up to 6,000 SSL handshakes per second, thus enabling fast, secure online transactions. There is no doubt that the mainframe remains the platform for secure computing.

These are just a few of the many technological developments to be found in the System z9. It is readily apparent that the System z9 highlights IBM’s commitment that the zSeries will continue to be the major platform chosen to host much of the company’s technology investments.

It is easy to see why IBM believes that its System z9 will be attractive as the heart of secure business solutions, both within and, increasingly, outside the enterprise. I believe that the System z9 will ensure that the mainframe remains as the foundation and ‘gold standard’ of enterprise computing solutions for the foreseeable future.