IBM Integrates Windows Into Mainframe


IBM this week introduced new Microsoft Windows support in its zEnterprise System mainframes, making it easier to run applications across z/OS, Linux, AIX, and Windows operating systems.

The new Windows support comes via x86 processor-based blades that plug into IBM's BladeCenter Extension, said Doris Conti, System z marketing director at IBM.

The zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension, or zBX, extends System z mainframe qualities of service and management capabilities across a set of integrated, fit-for-purpose POWER7 and IBM System x x86-based compute elements in the zEnterprise System mainframe.

"We now have blades supporting any operating system in the mainframe," Conti said. "What's interesting here is the tight integration of multiple environments with the BladeCenter Extension. So now an application running on zOS can reach out to an app running on the blade. It's the integration that's unique."

For example, Conti said, a customer might be running a mission-critical application like SAP on a mainframe to take advantage of the mainframe's security and scalability while placing SAP on a distributed platform for other purposes. "But the customer ends up with two systems to manage SAP," she said. "With this, the customer gets a single system to manage it all."

IBM has been supporting Linux on its mainframes for about 10 years, and customers have experienced consolidation of up to 90 percent of their Linux servers by running them on the mainframe, Conti said. "They can consolidate up to 40 Oracle x86 cores to a single core on System z," she said.

By running Microsoft Windows in zBX on the mainframe, customers can also consolidate their Windows server infrastructure, Conti said. "We're using a standard IBM x86 blade, with KVM as a virtualization layer," she said. "So customers can expect the same level of integration as they get with Linux."

The new integrated Windows support on the IBM zEnterprise System mainframe is scheduled to be available starting December 16.

About 70 percent of all IBM's midrange Model 114 mainframes go through IBM's solution provider channel, while a smaller percentage of its higher-end Model 196 goes through channels, Conti said.

Despite the popular belief that mainframe servers are relics of the past, IBM has been continuing to do a brisk business with them. However, during its third quarter, IBM reported a slight year-over-year drop in mainframe sales, which the company attributed to the introduction of new models.