IBM Celebrates Mainframe's 40th Anniversary With Baby Mainframe, Baby Shark

Big Blue Wednesday unveiled the z890 mainframe, which scales from 30 percent less than the minimum processing capacity of its current z800 model to more than double maximum capacity of the z800. Performance is double that of the z800, IBM officials said.

As a result, the z800 entry-level mainframe, introduced in February of 2002, is effectively going end-of-life, said Pete McCaffrey, program director of storage marketing for the company.

The z890 "baby mainframe" can be configured with one to four processors, and can be ordered in one of 28 different capacity levels, said McCaffrey. Each processor can be partitioned into multiple fractions. "The z890 can scale up on a granular basis, even at fractions of a processor at a time," he said.

Currently installed z800s can be upgraded to a z890, McCaffrey said.

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IBM also introduced the new zSeries Application Assist Processor aimed at customers looking to integrate Java-based web applications along side existing business applications and data on the same mainframe, as well as on/off capacity-on-demand to provide temporary extra capacity to meet demand surges.

Also new this week is the ESS 750 storage array, a low-cost entry-level version of the company's Shark array. It scales from 1.1 Tbytes to 4.6 Tbytes, and includes capacity-on-demand and more than 20 autonomic features.

The "baby Shark" inherits several enterprise-class features from the company's existing ESS 800 model, including FlashCopy for making remote copies of data, as well as the same performance of its bigger sibling.

About 75 percent of IBM's current z800 mainframes are sold via solution providers, and the company plans to leverage its partner base to sell the z890 as well, McCaffrey said. Solution providers who specialize in offering complete infrastructure solutions can offer it to midrange customers looking to consolidate their data centers.

The "baby mainframe" and "baby Shark" are both expected to begin shipping next month, McCaffrey said. The z890 starting price is expected to be $200,000, while the ESS 750 is expected to start at just over $100,000.