IBM Announces zEnterprise BC12 – Business Class Booster

IBM System z Highlights

  • System z grew revenues by 10%, MIPS by 23% in Q2 2013
  • Announces air cooled zBC12 Models H06 and H13 for shipment in September – prices from $75k upwards (the same entry price as its predecessor, the z114)
  • 1064 MIPS uni-processor performance – z/OS capacity of 50-4958 MIPS
  • Announces new zBX Model 003 for attached processing
  • Upgrades available from z114 and z10 BC
  • New z/OS and z/VM operating systems
  • Multiple enhancements from $1B R&D investment
  • System z is still king of integrated systems

system z q213
We’ve been spending some time over the last couple of weeks talking to IBM about System z, including an analyst briefing from which most of the following details are derived. We make no apology for covering it so regularly here as we think of it as the archetypal integrated system – something worth emulating by all system vendors building new bundles from Converged Infrastructure components. You’ll want to know more about how IBM is addressing new business-level users with its new box and software introductions.

System z Continues To Grow In Q2 2013

IBM’s System z business grew by 10% in revenues, 23% in MIPS in the second quarter, beating Power (-25%) and System x (-11%) and system storage (-7%). It gave a few details of its business. In particular:

  • It has now signed around 210 new accounts since the launch of zEnterprise in Q3 2010 – we make that around 15 new ones in Q2
  • It has now sold around 275 hybrid computing units including 200 zBX units and 75 DB2 Analytics Accelerators over the same period – about 35, 15 and 20 respectively in the quarter
  • ¾ of its top 100 accounts now run Linux on IFLs
  • More than 7,400 apps run on the platform, including those from 55 new ISVs added in H1 2013
  • Linux now accounts for 25% of installed MIPS

System z momentum continues with the zEC12 selling well in the quarter. We expect there to be a slight slow-down in Q3 as customers wait for the new zBC12 announced today.

The New Mainframe

The zEnterprise BC12 is a business line mainframe taking the same $75k entry price as the z114, but offering 50 MIPS verses 26 MIPS on the replaced system. The new machine comes in 2 models – the H06 and H13. IBM continues with its zBX attached processors, adding the new 003 model to go with the new machine.

Table 1 – System z Announcements At A Glance – July 23rd

Offering What is it? Notes
zEnterprise BC12 new business-level mainframe >$75k in North America, 2 models – H06, H13, <13IFLs, <6CPUs, 50-4958 MIPS; attaches to new zBX Model 003
DS8870 Business Class configuration EasyTier enabled mainframe storage >$70k in North America
z/OS 2.1 new mainframe OS version better high performance data sharing, batch and analytics; new z/OSMF 2.1
z/VM 6.3 new mainframe OS version 1TB memory, HyperDispatch, OpenStack support
InfoSphere Optim Solutions life cycle management software adds z/OS Archives and TDM extracts to 4m rows per table
IBM Cognos BI v10.2 for z/OS and Linux BI software reports Hadoop through BigInsights
IBM SPSS Statistics 22 stats for entire analytics process integrated product family
Enterprise Linux Server for Analytics System z hardware, z/VM hypervisor, 3-year maintenance, analytics SW and optional PureData technology for query acceleration Linux environment for operational analytics with Oracle or DB2 LUW
IBM UrbanCode Cloud Solutions continuous software integration and automated application deployment acquired company
Tivoli OMEGAMON for z/OS system and network monitoring and performance management in Cloud environments part of Tivoli systems management software
CSL-WAVE Simplification and automation for System z/VM virtualised environments intent to acquire company
IBM Worklight runtime environment and toolset for multi-platform app development build and connect mobile applications
CICS TS Feature Pack for Mobile Extensions v1.0 CICS transactions for mobile apps using JSON standards relates to MobileFirst strategy
IBM WebSphere DataPower Gateway Appliance security-enhanced IMS integration for mobile devices for mobile devices
IBM Cognos Mobile analytics software for mobile devices for mobile devices
Trusted Key Entry migration set-up wizard for cryptography tasks simplifies initiation
Enterprise Key Management Foundation key protection for mainframe/distributed environments enhanced security feature
Security zSecure suite v2.1 automated auditing/monitoring for regulatory compliance and threat detection enhanced security feature
zEDC data compression acceleration cross-platform data exchange feature on zBC12 and zEC12
RoCE Express High-speed communication fabric lower latency and CPU overhead feature on zBC12 and zEC12
zManager hybrid computing enhancement optimises x86 blade resources on zBX Model 003

Source: ITCandor, 2013

In addition IBM has launched the DS8870 Business Class configuration storage system for the new machine costing upwards of $70k in North America, as well as a bundled Linux Enterprise Server. It has updated its z/OS operating system to version 2.1 and z/VM to version 6.3, as well is introducing a number of new software and solutions tuned for the new computer and focusing on Cloud, ease of management, analytics and mobile computing (see Table for details). It has added high-speed data compression and high-speed communications fabric to the zBC12 and zEC12 and enhanced zManager on the zBX to optimise x86 blades. In total it claims to have invested around $1 Billion for the various offerings included in the announcement.

New Customer References

Accompanying its launch today IBM has included references from a number of its System z customers, including:

  • Banco do Brasil, which has reduced the time taken for queries to run from 11 hours to 26 seconds through the use of the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator and gained new business insights.
  • Izumiya (a Japanese supermarket chain), which has reduced its IT system and admin cost by 20% and streamlined its supply chain having consolidated 114 servers to the z114 and zBX
  • SICOOB (a Brazilian Credit union), which has adopted Linux on System z, achieving a saving of $1.5 Million in electricity in the process while gaining the ability to deploy new applications faster
  • Nets, which is making use of the security features of System z managing millions of keys for its credit card and ATM payments

IBM does a good job of illustrating the relevance of its latest offerings by putting them in context of its existing customers, describing its focus as Cloud, mobile, analytics and security. Its customers sometimes spread the use of mainframes to new workloads – Algar Telecom in Brazil for instance is thinking about extending mainframe use beyond consolidation to Cloud services (see our previous analysis).

Some Conclusions – Integration And Workload Optimisation For New Customers

In another briefing in London last week IBM made the case for System z as a platform for Cloud Computing – demonstrating lower core counts and higher processor utilisation than equivalent x86-based machines. It also noted that a number of customers who have introduced ‘mainframe quarantine’ are experiencing very high processor utilisation as they offload all new workloads to distributed systems, which would be eliminated of course if they processed them on the mainframe.
The zBC12 is a significant announcement and should allow IBM to continue to grow System z mainframe revenues in 2013 over 2012, although as always there will continue to be annual and product related seasonality.
The unit and customer increments are small, but significant given the strategic importance of adopting System z. While IBM has answered the questions about the price, openness and applicability of the platform to new users, there remains tremendous prejudice against mainframes. We expect it to succeed in pushing back against this by publishing use cases, proof points and references, although it will remain an uphill battle.
It is poignant that IBM’s best performing server is about to celebrate its 50th birthday. The maturity of the platform allows it to offer workload-optimisation to its users – something the suppliers of new CI and IS machines aspire to.

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  2. […] machines with revenues falling by 21% to $1.4 Billion, while System z revenues grew by 10% (see our earlier review. Windows servers declined by 1% to $9.1 Billion – a poor return given the introduction of the […]



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