IBM unveils z9 mainframe, touts virtualization tools

IBM Tuesday announced a new mainframe, the z9 — which it says is twice as powerful as the model it replaces — as well as improvements to its enterprisewide virtualization systems.

At one time, a new mainframe announcement by IBM would have focused primarily on performance gains. But citing a rash of data thefts and losses over the past year at a number of companies, IBM emphasized new data security capabilities on the z9.

IBM officials said the z9 has the capability of encrypting data on the mainframe and on storage tapes as well, and can do so rapidly — processing up to 6,000 “secure online handshakes” per second. That represents a threefold improvement over the company’s previous mainframe, the “T-Rex” zSeries z990.

Overall, the z9 can process 1 billion transactions per day, more than double the number the zSeries z990 could handle, IBM said.

The mainframe security improvements will protect data shared with supply chain partners and remote sites, the company said.

IBM said its virtualization technology, Virtualization Engine 2.0, expands the number of systems that can be managed virtually. It includes the capability for dynamic partition management of the company’s Power5 processor-based systems, integration with zSeries network-load balancing and other tools that will provide management and automation for all IBM eServer series and systems.

“Everything will be virtualized,” said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Systems and Technology Group. He said the virtualization technology “will manage ours and other products to a set of standards.”

Zeitler emphasized the need for following open standards, including those developed by various industries, such as oil and gas. “Innovation will come from how well and how broadly you can collaborate,” he said.

The virtualization effort is focused on being able to operate in a heterogeneous environment, said Rod Adkins, vice president of development for IBM Systems and Technology Group. The technology has been designed to manage other platforms, including those made by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

New features include an integrated console that provides a consolidated view of various resources and offers autonomic capabilities such as automated discovery of system resources.

On a customer panel, Scott Abbey, chief technology officer at UBS AG, said one of the things customers need from vendors “is, frankly, ease of use.” The vendors that will be successful “are the ones that make it easy for us to do the next thing,” Abbey said.

IBM also said it is creating an industry group,, which includes Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp. and Citrix Systems, to help spur development of applications for the IBM BladeCenter.

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