A couple of weeks ago DancingDinosaur looked at the year-end results posted by IBM, with the z, led by the zEC12, leading the gains. Despite some tough quarters earlier in 2012, the System z has been on quite a roll; in 4Q12 it experienced 56% year to year revenue growth, the strongest since 2000.
The numbers look that much when better compared to what had immediately preceded them. In 3Q12, the z was down 19% on revenue (ouch).
The financials prove what long-time IBM watchers know: a new mainframe intro always kicks up the numbers, although it may take a quarter or two. The new machine, the zEC12, launched at the end of August 2012. Historically IBM follows a new mainframe with a business class version about a year after the initial launch, so we can expect a business class version of the zEC12 around August or September. (The z114 was introduced in July 2011, a year after the z196.) You can expect IBM will price it aggressively, as was the z114.
But it wasn’t only the new machine driving the good number. Since the introduction of hybrid computing in 2010 with the zEnterprise 196, IBM has been doggedly pushing the idea of cloud computing, analytics (big data or otherwise), efficient centralized management, elastic scalability, and mobility. It has steadily brought out tools and optimizations that enhance the z for these kinds of workloads. Today its three main growth initiatives for the z focus on cloud, analytics, and security, which parallel IBM’s overall Smarter Computing thrust.
Optimizations and enhancements, like those announced or previewed earlier this week, will continue to drive the zEnterprise forward. For example, newly enhanced tools like z/OSMF (z/OS Management Facility) ease management of z/OS through a modern, browser-based console for z/OS.
The newest version, z/OSMF Version 2.1, previewed this week, provides intuitive management intended to enable IBM’s Smarter Computing through such capabilities as at-a-glance reports on software service levels and system software assets. New workflow capabilities promise to simplify z/OS configuration tasks and tune them to user roles. It leverages the Liberty profile for WebSphere for z/OS to accelerate deployment and speed time to value. Finally, it includes a REST API for jobs submission, which bridges batch and web-based applications and, in the process, helps bring younger z/OS system programmers up to speed.
Eletrobras Electronuclear, Brazil, the largest generator of electricity in Latin America, turned to z/OSMF for help in cloning its production system to ensure system resilience. As an Eletrobras manager noted: With z/OSMF this cloning process is much easier and can be completed in a matter of a few hours.
Also previewed was z/OS Version 2.1, described by IBM as the Smart Foundation for Smart Computing. z/OS v2.1 brings enhanced security through a new crypto server and support for additional industry security standards. Enhancements around paging and throughput enable greater scalability while providing optimized performance reporting. It offers enhanced data serving to fuel analytics for new data-hungry analytic applications as well as optimized data storage and faster file retrieval through an enhanced zFS along with improved FICON management. For management, it includes built in workload optimization, extended management reporting, and continued batch modernization.
IBM also previewed a z/VM upgrade, version 6.3. This adds support for 1TB of real memory and improved performance with HiperDispatch. The z/VM memory will provide better performance for larger virtual machines and reduced LPAR sprawl by allowing up to 4x more VMs per LPAR. z/VM v6.3 boasts a higher server consolidation ratio with support for more virtual servers than any other platform in a single footprint, according to IBM.
Meanwhile IBM continues to roll out z customer examples at an increasing pace. Bankia, a Spanish banking company, turned to the System z for real-time integration of data to facilitate monitoring and mitigate risk. Vantiv, a leading payment processor based in Cincinnati, turned to the z for its cryptographic coprocessors to secure 2 billion transactions per month.
Marriott, an early zEC12 adopter, uses the machine to centralize its reservations and streamline the selling of rooms through elastic pricing. The University of Florida turned to the z for a scalable and reliable IT infrastructure that could accommodate students accessing and interacting with applications and data through mobile applications.
Already 2013 promises to be an interesting year for z shops. Expect more innovation, optimization, and a new low cost business class machine to accompany the zEC12.