zEC12 for Social Business

Given Doug Balog’s comments a couple of weeks ago and reported by DancingDinosaur here it should be no surprise that alongside mobile another high priority non-traditional System z workload would be social business. Of the two, mobile and social, the biggest hurdle for mainframe data center managers to get their heads around may be social, which conjures up images chatty teens.

There are, however, serious business use cases for social, starting with collaboration. And as good a platform as any, maybe better than some even, is the hybrid zEnterprise, particularly the zEC12.  When the lower cost version arrives later this year as expected social business on the z will make that much more sense where cost is an issue.  Those chatty teens, in fact, point to another use case for social business—the ability to galvanize disparate and widespread groups of people into taking action, such as coming out for a product launch event.

What makes the zEC12 an appealing platform for social business is its hybrid computing capabilities through the zBX, its solid security, and its ability to handle multiple diverse workloads at the same time. IBM’s PureSystems, the industry’s other hybrid computing platform, may be an almost equally attractive candidate for social business albeit minus the sheer power and other virtues of the zEnterprise.

There is no doubt that IBM is enamored of the cloud, mobile, social, and big data—the last three clearly non-traditional z workloads. In an announcement at the end of February on cloud-based analytics and mobile initiatives for its global ecosystem the company was quick to trumpet the latest IDC projection on the topic: the IT industry has been transitioning to a new era of computing built on mobile, cloud services, social networking and big data analytics. In 2013, spending will exceed $2.1 trillion, driven by double-digit growth in mobile, cloud, big data and social technologies …

Balog was clearly in synch with industry trends when he began talking up non-traditional workloads for z a few weeks back, including mobile, social, and analytics workloads. The February announcement focused mainly on the Power, PureSystems, and System x platforms but it could just as well been referencing the zEnterprise too.

For social business, collaboration probably will be the first non-traditional social workload to gain traction on the zEnterprise followed closely by customer service.  This blogger has been writing about collaboration in the form of Notes groupware going back to the days of Lotus Development.  Today, Notes has become one of the mainstays of the IBM social business and collaboration toolset in the form of IBM Connections, which the zEnterprise supports through Linux on z and hybrid computing. Now IBM is talking about the next phase of collaboration. It will be driven by social software that enables a smarter workforce and delivers an enhanced customer experience.

For the zEnterprise the key is IBM Collaboration Software that empowers people to connect, collaborate, and innovate while optimizing the way they work. Linux on System z combines the comprehensive collaboration environment with the power of the IBM System z. Lotus Domino on Linux for System z, for instance, has matured into a powerful mail and collaboration platform. IBM reports it can easily scale to support over 10,000 production users on a single System z while reducing operational complexity through System z virtualization and ensuring security.  Meanwhile, Domino server-to-server communications run at memory speed, and admins have a single point of management when clustering within the same zEnterprise server.  In fact, they can manage the entire hybrid computing environment through the Unified Resource Manager.

The zEnterprise plays the role of the underlying social business hardware platform, the place where data resides and is secure and where applications ranging from the capabilities in IBM Connections to messaging, real-time collaboration, analytics, social and web content management, and portals run as an integrated, unified infrastructure.  Alongside your usual CICS and production applications you soon might run applications like Trilog for social project management or Bunchball for gamification, maybe even among the datacenter IT staff to spur it to new levels of efficiency.

For social business, IBM described 2011 as a year of exploration, experimentation, and in some cases innovation.  Both small and large organizations in a variety of verticals globally began to realize the power of bringing social behaviors, processes and platforms behind the firewall. According to a 2011 AIIM survey, over 50% of organizations considered social business to be either an imperative or significant to their business goals.

In 2013, social business will be much bigger still, driven by double-digit growth in mobile, cloud, big data and social technologies. Although these may be non-traditional mainframe workloads z shops need to embrace them or risk becoming irrelevant.

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