IBM z114 Use Cases

Nobody in a position to buy a mainframe seriously believes they will get a z114 capable of doing real work for $75k, the z114 entry price. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a worthwhile bargain. That was the message from a webinar featuring DancingDinosaur, Bob Thomas from MainframeZone, and an IBM product manager. You can register and tune into the free webinar here.

IBM describes the economics of Linux consolidation on a z114 as such:

  • Consolidate an average of 30 distributed servers or more on a single core, or
    hundreds in a single footprint
  • Consolidate 40 Oracle server cores to 2 Linux engines
  • Deliver a virtual Linux server for approximately $500 per year (TCA)

Now with new Windows x-blades about to become available for the zBX and with the z114 able to play with the zBX an entirely new set of consolidation options emerges around Windows. This will open yet another price/performance calculus.

For example, IBM insists that zBX blades will be priced competitive with industry blades. A popular third party reseller offers IBM Hx5 blades for from just under $5000 (Server – blade – 2-way – 1 x Xeon E7-4807 / 1.86 GHz – RAM 8 GB – no HDD) to around $18,000 (Server – blade – 2-way – 2 x Xeon E7-2870 / 2.4 GHz – RAM 16 GB – no HDD). All are Windows server certified.

It isn’t clear, however, how many early z114 customers are going to opt for a zBX. At the z114 webinar the IBM product manager reported a few initial z114 adopters did add the zBX. Eventually organizations may turn to a minimally configured z114 to take advantage of hybrid computing through the zBX, managing the entire multi-platform system through the Unified Resource Manager on the z114.

Now, what can you do with a $75k z114? Essentially nothing. This is the price of the basic hardware. IBM addresses the issue this way:

  • The z114 hardware price represents a true working entry configuration for customers with entry level capacity requirements. It is based on a new z114 A01 Model M05 including 26 MIPS of capacity, 8GB’s of memory, and an entry level quantity of OSA, FICON, and ESCON adapters for connectivity.
  • It provides a solid and cost effective foundation from which clients can easily grow as requirements demand while other cost reductions follow: 17-25% price reductions on z specialty engines (IFLs, zIIPs, zAAP, ICFs), 75% reduction for memory, deeply discounted Solution Edition offerings, and a new lower software curve that lowers costs 5% or more
  • Organizations already are doing real work on entry level machines running either z/OS, VSE, or a mixture of operating systems. Such workloads include CICS, batch programs, and small legacy applications sitting on z/VSE.

As DancingDinosaur points out in the webinar, it will end up costing about double the entry hardware price to do meaningful work. For existing z10 BC shops the z114 is the natural upgrade. They’ll get more capabilities and faster performance at a lower cost. They also will enjoy lower pricing for specialty processors and memory and a more favorable software pricing curve.

Other recommended z114 use cases: a Linux, Oracle, SAP consolidation play. Consolidate more virtual servers per core and benefit from the favorable idiosyncrasies of Oracle virtual server licensing on the mainframe.

From there you can just pick and choose workloads for the z114 from IBM’s z Solution Edition Program and get discounted hardware, software, middleware, and maintenance. First up can be Enterprise Linux & ELS; the Cloud Starter Edition, especially when combined as part of the new zEnterprise starter edition for the cloud for the z114; WebSphere; and application development.

The initial z114 price runs 25% less than an equivalent z10 BC configuration, which many of IBM customers are leveraging today not only for smaller production workloads but also as a backup and/or development/test environment. As it turns out, there is much you can do with a z114 even without jumping to the M10 version.

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