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March 2011

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03/08/2011

zEnterprise Adoption Grows

2010 MIPS sales set record growth, for good reason

By Mary Shacklett

IBM first announced its new enterprise-class computing platform the zEnterprise System in July, and it was formally made available to customers in September. Customer adoption has been aggressive, with 450 systems totaling 1.5 million MIPS already shipped at fourth quarter 2010—a MIPS growth rate that was the highest in more than a decade. The industry has certainly noticed, so the natural question is, what’s fueling all of this activity?

IT Spending is Opening Up

One factor is the start of more aggressive IT spending after several years of recession, but just as important is the need to continuously compete in a global economy that’s growing more and more competitive daily. At a recent conference with analysts, IBM said 60 percent of zEnterprise sales have been to major market companies with locations in North America, Europe and Japan, equally significant is the fact that 40 percent of these zEnterprise sales are occurring in emerging markets in South America, Asia and Africa. There’s no dominant industry that stands out in this mix. zEnterprise sites span public and private sector organizations in a variety of verticals (e.g. finance, communications, healthcare, etc.).

Linux is a Major Area of IT Activity

Many of these organizations have spent the past five years greening their data centers and embarking on major virtualization efforts that have identified System z as a platform of choice for systems that formerly resided on separate physical servers. These systems are frequently Linux-based, as evidenced by one IBM survey that reported that 64 of 100 System z clients interviewed run Linux on their mainframes, with Linux now representing 19 percent of installed System z base capacity. When you add the increased capabilities for both Linux and native systems on the new zEnterprise, migration to zEnterprise systems almost seems natural. “We’re seeing 20-30 percent improvement in productivity with zEnterprise even before we do significant system tuning,” says one payment processor. A second customer in healthcare echoes the results.

Fit for Purpose Workshops Aid Adoption

But of course, there’s more to it than that. Companies can always be depended upon to introduce new hardware and software platforms, and to extol their virtues. The job remains for CIOs and senior technical staff to translate how these new capabilities will benefit their businesses, and if the help is significant enough to make an investment that they strongly feel will make a real difference.

“One of the free services we have and will continue to provide for zEnterprise is the delivery of free fit-for-purpose workshops to sites that can help them see how zEnterprise can specifically assist them with the performance of their application workloads,” says STG Marketing Director, Doris Conti, at a recent industry analysts conference.

More than 300 customers took IBM up on its free zEnterprise workshops in 2010 alone. From this body of work, IBM was able to identify four major workload areas that a majority of corporate IT departments want to improve reliability and performance in:

  • Transaction processing and database
  • Business applications
  • Web, collaboration and infrastructure
  • Analytics

The question is, for all of the companies participating, how many already had very defined plans of where they could best use zEnterprise and optimize the return on the investment to the business?

“Our experiences really varied across the board,” says Greg Lotko, IBM vice president and business line executive, System z. “Some sites had clear cut goals on what it was they wanted to do, and were ready to test applications as soon as we arrived. In other cases, we took time at the beginning to work through the site’s IT infrastructure and critical workloads, and to identify some test cases for zEnterprise where we all felt that zEnterprise would deliver an immediately beneficial impact to the business.”

A sampling of business workloads for zLinux where organizations felt that zEnterprise would deliver value includes:

  • Business connectors (e.g., WebSphere, MQSeries, DB2Connect, CICS Transaction Gateway, IMS Connect for Java)
  • Business-critical applications (e.g., Java)
  • Development of WebSphere and Java applications
  • WebSphere Application Server (WAS)
  • Email and collaboration (e.g., Domino, Web 2.0)
  • Network Infrastructure (e.g., FTP, NFS, DNS, etc.; Comm Server and .Communications Controller for Linux; and Communigate Pro for VoIP)
  • Data services (e.g., Cognos, Oracle, Informix, Information Builders WebFOCUS)
  • Applications running top-end disaster recovery
  • Virtualization and security services

These areas support customer practices and preferences for using Linux on System z in Web serving, systems management, online transaction processing (OLTP) and application development.

What to Expect in 2011

Planning to continue its fit-for-purpose workshops in 2011, IBM says this detailed planning work with customers in customer-specific IT environments has furthered IBM’s understanding of the different computing scenarios and pain points that corporate IT is faced with as it optimizes systems and continues to improve quality of service for systems users. For the CIOs and senior technical staff charged with making this job happen better and faster for their businesses, being able to participate with a major vendor in benefit and fit-for-purpose discussions that are tailored to the site also deliver major paybacks—because even though IT wallets will loosen up in 2011, every cost justification will remain painstaking and every budget discussion will entail detailed discussions about technology acquisition, proof of concept, installation—and when the technology can begin delivering on the ROI promises that have been projected. Early results indicate that zEnterprise is making the grade.


Mary Shacklett is president and CEO of Transworld Data.