New IBM z16, LinuxOne Form Factors Gives Partners More Options

‘Server sprawl is real,’ IBM VP Tina Tarquinio tells CRN in an interview. ‘And so the power you can get in one of these servers is really incredible.’


IBM and certified business partners will make single frame and rack mount options for its z16 mainframe computer systems and LinuxOne Rockhopper 4 servers generally available worldwide May 17, giving partners more options for meeting customers’ data center demands.

The new options, based on IBM’s Telum processor, aim to bring the ability for real-time artificial intelligence (AI) inference, quantum-safe cryptography plus environmental, cost and space benefits to customers, especially small and midsize businesses (SMBs), Tina Tarquinio, IBM’s vice president of product management and design for IBM z and LinuxOne, told CRN in an interview.

“Server sprawl is real,” Tarquinio said. “And so the power you can get in one of these servers is really incredible.”

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IBM Introduces New z16, LinuxOne Options

IBM will host virtual events on the new configurations April 4 and April 17.

Bo Gebbie, president of Minneapolis-based IBM partner Evolving Solutions – No. 165 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500 – told CRN in an interview that 2022 “was one of the most, if not the most, successful” years for selling zSystems.

“And we’re having a great first quarter as well,” he said.

The new form options will help with customers that don’t need the largest or most expensive offerings, Gebbie said.

“Different client sizes and types have different needs, and not every client needs a full enterprise-level system,” he said. “It’s enterprise technology but it goes to a different size, different price point or financial point. So this hits a good segment of the market for us.”

The added capabilities around AI and security will also stand out to customers, he said.

Customers have sought AI “for workloads that need accelerated computing or high demand or high performance that are really data intensive,” he said.

And as for security – “I couldn’t tell you a mainframe conversation that doesn’t involve security – whether that’s on the compute side, the storage side, and most often it’s both of them,” he said. “So that’s been important.”

Form Factors For SMBs

The SMB-friendly form factors for z16 and LinuxOne follows news in February of IBM rolling out updates to its Power product suite aimed at smaller customers.

IBM introduced the fourth generation of its LinuxOne servers in September. The z16 multi-frame was introduced in April 2022.

With the new options, customers have the ability to co-locate z16 and LinuxOne Rockhopper 4 with distributed infrastructure, according to IBM. Customers can use the systems with servers, storage and switches in one rack. IBM z16 and LinuxOne have 99.999999 percent availability for workloads. While the LinuxOne Rockhopper 4 will gain more options, the LinuxOne Emperor 4 is still available in a multi-frame format

The rack optimized footprint is for client-owned, standard 19-inch racks and power distribution units, according to IBM.

More customers should have access to IBM’s AI capabilities, including on-chip acceleration with low enough latency to score every financial transaction, from everyday purchases up to million-dollar banking deals, Tarquinio said.

Some of the customer demands IBM’s AI have helped meet include instant payments, medical imaging, parcel mapping and even shoreline erosion planning, for example, she said.

“It’s really been mind-blowing to see how we can make a difference with speed, accuracy and scalability through these systems,” she said.

She continued: “For our partners, this is really a great opportunity for them to help their clients, our clients, leverage the investment they’ve made. They have this technology. They have the data. They have the application. And with this AI they no longer need to move data off platform, move scoring off platform. It’s lower risk, it’s lower cost and it really is a great way for our partners to bring a full package to our clients that lets them make smart business decisions in the moment and maintain” service level agreements.

IBM will make sizing calculators, support services, energy use tools, performance monitoring and other partner resources available, she said.

The form factors should help more customers adopt edge computing and better security. The new form factors should introduce more customers to IBM’s Z Security and Compliance Center and time and manpower savings for audits, she said. The new configurations have security capabilities like confidential computing, centralized key management and quantum-safe cryptography.

“As our clients are preparing to defend against quantum computing and what that would mean for encryption, they now have a quantum-safe system that they can protect their data now and in the future,” she said.

Gebbie told CRN that the environmental angle to smaller systems has caught on with larger customers and ones with international presence more so than smaller ones.

Tarquinio said that among customers who face environmental regulations, they hear from chief information officers (CIOs) “ that sustainability concerns are a top three now – it used to maybe be in the top five, and now it’s in the top three of what they have to deal with.”

According to IBM, consolidating Linux workloads on an IBM LinuxOne Rockhopper 4 instead of running them on compared x86 servers with similar conditions and location can reduce energy consumption by 75 percent and space by 67 percent.

IBM z16 and LinuxOne Rockhopper 4 support Linux and Red Hat OpenShift certified workloads, including data serving, core banking and digital assets, according to IBM.

The new Rockhopper 4 servers will have IBM LinuxOne Advanced Expert Care – integrated and prepackaged hardware and software support services in a tiered support model to give customers more predictable maintenance costs and less deployment and operating risk, according to IBM.