IBM is releasing the latest version of its zEnterprise mainframe, the zEC12 enterprise system, with an eye toward cloud users. The new mainframe includes large-scale cloud capabilities, as well as enhanced security and support for robust analytics.

Brightening the Cloud Computing Environment

The mainframe’s virtualization capabilities are designed to support private cloud environments. IBM says users can consolidate thousands of distributed systems onto Linux on zEC12, with one zEC12 encompassing the capacity of an entire multi-platform data center.

Users can run both traditional IT and private cloud applications on the mainframe. In addition, IBM says hybrid cloud users can obtain 25 percent more performance per core and 50 percent greater total system capacity than the zEC12 predecessor, as well a chip running at 5.5 GHz.

Security, Analytics Part of the Deal

Security features of zEC12 include Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 5+ security classification and a cryptographic co-processor called Crypto Express4S that provides privacy for transactions and sensitive data.

According to IBM, analytic workload performance is 30 percent higher than that of its predecessor, and the mainframe supports the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator that incorporates the Netezza data warehouse appliance. The new mainframe also offers IT systems analytics capabilities called IBM zAware that analyze internal system messages to provide a near real-time view of the system’s health and detect patterns indicating problems or deviations from the norm.

In addition, zEC12 includes internal solid state technology with Flash Express, a new memory technology designed to help improve the performance of data-intensive applications or workloads where optimal service levels are vital, such as customer-facing or service applications.

It’s designed to provide improved availability during bursts of system activity experienced at transitional periods such as when financial markets open or holiday periods. Clients can opt to run zEC12 without a raised datacenter floor.


IBM Looks to the Cloud

IBM appears to be focusing on cloud technology this year. In May, the company released IBM Commerce on Cloud -- an integrated e-commerce solution in the cloud that runs the range of functions from marketing to selling to fulfillment. It will provide accelerated business-to-consumer transactions by automating and synchronizing supply demand engines. Already, IBM claims that it manages data and commerce transactions in the cloud every year worth around US$ 100 billion, through 4.5 million daily client transactions.

IBM has also enhanced several of its on-cloud collaboration networks to accelerate information sharing across demand and supply processes. As previously stated in CMSWire, “(IBM) looks like it's aiming for a much bigger slice of (the cloud) market.” 

Mainframes Still Main IT Product

Although mainframe computing dates back to the 1960s and is not typically thought of as “cutting edge” technology, mainframes remain a vital part of the current IT environment. They also remain a potentially lucrative product for IT providers.

According to an article in The Register about the zEC12, “You put in $1 billion every two years for hardware development, as IBM has done with the new System zEnterprise EC12, and you take out $7 billion in ridiculously profitable hardware sales over the next two years, and probably as much revenue from monthly systems software at even higher profit margins over those same two years.” The article goes on to state that IBM and its shareholders will be “laughing all the way to the bank” despite how “stodgy” mainframes are.

IBM says it invested more than US$ 1 billion in R&D for the zEC12 and also obtained client input during the design. To help current mainframe clients looking to upgrade to zEC12, IBM offers setup and migration services, as well as financing services.