zEnterprise Use Cases Start Rolling In

IBM has become more forthcoming with information about the initial zEnterprise hybrid computing users. This is a welcomed development.

These organizations adopted the zEnterprise and the zBX to run a hybrid (mixed platform) computing environment, not just as a bigger, faster z10.  What those organizations are doing—the use cases—is essential information if an IT manager is to seriously consider adopting a hybrid computing strategy.

A few names already have trickled out. EUROCONTROL, one of the more recent, was reported at DancingDinosaur here. EUROCONTROL is the European air traffic control organization. Its goal was to streamline operations and reduce costs. IBM put out a news release on it here, in November. Then in December, IBM unveiled BG Phoenics, a European IT services provider, here.  BG Phoenics turned to hybrid computing—two z196 machines, two zBX cabinets with POWER7 and System x blades in a cluster running Linux, DB2, WebSphere, Tivoli, and more to reduce server and management sprawl.

An interesting data warehousing use case is Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB), a Slovenia bank. IBM provided the bank with a new z196 and business analytics capabilities. The analytics initially took the form of the Smart Analytics Optimizer but with plans to upgrade to the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA), a blade that incorporates Netezza capabilities. The system also included the zBX, Linux on z, and DB2 for z/OS. The goal was to speed up the processing of financial queries. Complex queries that previously had taken up to 1.5 hours to complete can now be completed in seconds. Check out the NLB video here.

A utilities company that previously ran Power Systems switched to the z196, zBX, POWER7 blades, DB2 v10, and SAP to support growth that would drive its previous production throughput of 80,000 bills/hour to over 150,000 bills per hour. Actually the system turned out to be able to scale above 400,000 bills per hour, more than enough to support an anticipated 30 million added customers over the next 18 months. The z196 was configured with 100 GB of memory, 7 CPs and 7 zIIPs.

So, zEnterprise hybrid computing use cases are starting to be published. Certainly more details are needed, not only on the speeds, feed, and configurations, but also implementation details, the choices that were made, and the organizational challenges that had to be overcome.  Have no doubt, hybrid computing entails significant organizational challenges starting before the machines even hit the loading dock. Also needed is third-party validation. But this a welcome start.  DancingDinosaur is looking forward to more.

At the same time IBM unveiled the recent use cases, it also offered some details on zEnterprise and hybrid computing adoption. For example, approximately 100 organizations took zBX cabinets and over 950 blades have been shipped.  Last fall that number stood at around 80 zBX cabinets shipped. And despite weak sales performance in the Q411, the amount of z MIPS shipped in 2011 still grew 16%. Also, a full complement of zBX blades now are shipping: POWER7, System x blades for Linux and for Windows, and specialized blades like the IDAA and DataPower.

The IDAA is an interesting computing story that delivers startling performance and is only available for the zEnterprise, a situation IBM makes clear is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.  The IDAA enables the zEnterprise to be extremely cost competitive at BI analytics when put up against long time BI leaders like Teradata and Oracle Exadata.  At some point DancingDinosaur will take a closer look at the IDAA.

And just in case you thought the zEnterprise is going away anytime soon, don’t worry.  The trends are headed in the zEnterprise’s favor. IBM added 62 mainframe clients in 2010, 76 new mainframe clients in 2011, and expects to hit 100 or more in 2012. Remember all the pundits over the years who predicted that the mainframe was a dinosaur heading to extinction? Don’t bet against the zEnterprise.

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One Response to “zEnterprise Use Cases Start Rolling In”

  1. Martin Packer Says:

    Here’s my response- on my own blog: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/MartinPacker/entry/haven_t_we_been_here_before4?lang=en_us

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