IBM System z wins overseas

IDC notes that 2Q continued the downward trend for non-x86 servers. Despite that IBM has been turning up new System z customers from Russia, Namibia, Vietnam, and Korea. DancingDinosaur was able to connect by phone with Comepay, a Russian company and IBM’s latest announced System z win.

Comepay operates 200 commerce kiosks in 11 regions of Russia that enable consumers to pay for a range of services including internet, digital TV, mobile phones and utilities. The company is pursuing an expansion strategy and expect to increase transactions three-fold, from 10,000 to 30,000 per second.  The new System z will support further business expansion strategy.

Until now, the company had been running the kiosks on an IBM x86 blade server Windows platform. That includes four servers running Microsoft SQL Server and seven front end servers handling OLTP and the customer portal. The system generally worked except for periods on instability and erratic behavior. Making changes also proved difficult.

After looking at alternatives, including IBM System P, HP Integrity NonStop, and Sun SPARC Enterprise, the company opted for the IBM System z10. Clinching the deal for IBM was the availability of z/OS Parallel Sysplex, Workload Management (WLM) for z/OS, and the ability to run DB2 on the Sysplex.

In addition to z/OS, it also runs Linux Enterprise Server with Nginx, Apache, SUSE Linux, Mono, and WebSphere. The Nginx effort is focusing on Comepay’s customer portal. Over time, the company expects to migrate all its various workloads—transaction processing, OLAP, the customer portal, and more—to the System z. At that point, it will use the Wintel platform only for domain control and management. Then, possibly in mid 2011, Comepay may add a z196. Stay tuned.

Like Comepay, new System z customers have been cropping up in far corners of the world in recent months. At the end of 2009, the First National Bank of Namibia ordered two System z10 BC-class machines as part of the bank’s $15 million project to bring its core banking systems into Namibia. Previously, they  resided in South Africa, but the Namibia Central Bank apparently wanted them local.

Earlier this summer, Vietnam Joint Stock Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank),  one of the largest banking institutions in Vietnam, selected the  System z10 mainframe to support the expansion of its banking businesses, which, reportedly, grew by over 35 percent last year. The new z will be optimized for high transaction banking workloads.

VietinBank expects to benefit from the z10’s advanced systems management features including capacity management and security as the country’s appetite for traditional and more advanced banking services continues to grow.  VietinBank also can claim to be the country’s first Linux on the mainframe customer, enabling the bank to take advantage the substantial software licensing savings possible when running application on Linux on z.

The bank’s total assets accounts for over 20 percent of the entire Vietnamese banking industry. The bank operates nearly 850 branches and transaction offices and nearly 1,200 Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) throughout the 56 provinces and cities in Vietnam.

These System z wins stand out as bright spots in what has been a tough non-x86 server market. As IDC notes in its 2Q 2010 worldwide server market report:  The market for non-x86 servers declined 16.0% year over year to $3.9 billion in 2Q10. IDC believes that demand for non-x86 systems will improve in the second half of the year now. Let’s hope 3Q and 4Q results reflect a market embrace of the new z196 and POWER7 systems.

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