20% Price/Performance Boost for IBM Hybrid Computing

Hybrid computing promises to boost IT flexibility and efficiency in a significant way. The zEnterprise EC12 (zEC12) continues IBM’s hybrid computing initiative by connecting to it through a new zBX, the model 003. The zBX, a robust blade cabinet, is where the multiplatform blades reside.

As with previous new machines, IBM gave the EC12 an approximately 20% MIPS price/performance kick. There also are savings on software and maintenance.

For hybrid computing, the zEC12/zBX combination support x86 blades, including Windows, and Power blades, which can run AIX or Linux. It also supports the DataPower blade. The Smart Analytics Optimizer blade has been discontinued in favor of the Netezza appliance that connects directly to the zEC12. Connecting the zEC12 and the zBX is a dedicated 10Gb link, far faster than the usual link. The Canadian Dept. of National Defense turned to the zEnterprise/zBX combination to execute its strategy of multi-platform enterprise hosting.

The z196 and z114, also hybrid systems, connect to the zBX model  002. Although the zBX model 003 connection is specific to the zEC12, everything else about the zBX is the same, the same total number of blades in the system (112), and the same option for single or doublewide blades as needed. Doublewide blades, of course, reduce the total number of blades.

This hybrid environment is managed as a virtual system through the zEC12 using the Unified Resource Manager. Additional management capabilities and higher level management automation is provided through Tivoli.

Hybrid computing actually isn’t new. Mainframe data centers typically support numerous platforms, including Windows, Linux, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, and more. The problem is that these are deployed and operated as separate platforms, which substantially increases the management overhead. A few skilled IT data centers can cobble together the appearance of a unified hybrid environment through technologies like SOA. This requires considerable skill to set up and maintaining it as things inevitably change becomes a challenge. The zEnterprise/zBX hybrid environment streamlines all this through the Unified Resource Manager and Tivoli.

IBM offers a second hybrid platform call PureSystems. DancingDinosaur wrote about it here. The Flex System Manager provides similar unified hybrid management for PureSystems as the Unified Resource Manager does for the zEC12/zBX.

Watch for an upcoming white paper on zBX adoption trends from Independent Assessment, the publisher of DancingDinosaur and BottomlineIT.

The zEC12 alone is an impressive machine. A departure from the previous quad core chip architecture, the zEC12 uses a 5.5 GHz six (hexa) core, out-of-order CISC processor architecture, which enables IBM to pack significantly more power into what is essentially the same footprint.  The zEZ12 handles a maximum of 36 processors, for a total of 120 cores, 101 of which are directly available to run operating systems and applications. The rest are used by the system to manage its own operations.

The number of cores available in a particular model of the zEC12 is embedded in the model name. The H20 has 20 cores available for direct customer use, plus spare and service processor cores. The HA1 brings 101 cores. Any combination of configurable cores can be designated as an assist processor; either a zIIP, zAAP, IFL, Internal Coupling Facility (ICF), or a System Assist Processor.

Find all the pertinent specs directly from IBM here.

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