IBM Intros New zEC12 Mainframe, Promises Increased Performance, Security

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Despite the long lineage of IBM's mainframe line, the company continues to attract new customers, IBM's Brown said. IBM signed 142 new customers to its mainframe business in the last year, including 91 from mature markets and 51 from developing markets. The company also worked with 1,067 academic institutions across 67 countries to develop courses related to mainframe computing, of which about half are in the U.S., he said.

Dan Nassif, director of mainframe solutions at Sirius Computer Solutions, a San Antonio, Texas-based solution provider and IBM channel partner, said his company has seen growth in its mainframe business.

Most recently, Sirius signed a major university that was looking to move from Apple computers, in which it was running Linux applications, but couldn't find a suitable platform until it turned to an IBM mainframe, Nassif said.

"The university was concerned about security," he said. "And for Linux, IBM mainframes are compatible in price with other systems. People often run Linux on mainframes to save money. If someone can run a Linux app on four cores of a mainframe instead of 20 cores on an x86 server, they pay less to the application developer. It's the gift that just keeps giving."

Security is a big reason customers sign on with mainframes, or return to the mainframe after trying other systems, Nassif said.

"You never hear of mainframes being hacked," he said. "Some people use mainframes to protect sensitive data from foreign agents or from kids."

One of the biggest parts of the zEC12 news is the larger engine size, including the increased processor performance and the increase in the number of cores, Nassif said.

"This is important for customers to save costs with many of their software apps and workloads," he said. "They can use the System z Integrated Information Processor, or zIIP. It uses the same core as the z/OS [mainframe operating system] runs. But, instructions from certain databases or apps can run on zIIP and not count towards their cost."


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