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IBM zEnterprise System: The Secret's In the Hardware -- or Is It the Software?

To accuse IBM at anytime of having a finger in every pie and trying to be all things to everybody would of course be unfair. To say that Big Blue's zEnterprise mainframe server attempts to sell you its hardware and software based benefits combined into one very large mouthful, might just be closer to the mark.

The so-called 'smarter data center' is IBM's latest technology proposition enabled by the new power available in the zEnterprise mainframe server, which allows workloads on mainframe as well as POWER7 and System x servers to share resources and be managed as a single, virtualized system.

It's a question of where to start first with this product. The hardware element of the equation sees power saving features and 96 microprocessors running at 5.2Ghz, capable of executing more than 50 billion instructions per second. For those of you that are counting, that's 60% more capacity than its predecessor, the System z10.

The software element here comes down to some new slick firmware management software in the form of the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension and the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager. According to IBM, these tools can be optimized for specific workload prioritization, as well as made to cater for functions such as security, analytics and managing web infrastructures.

"The unique value of zEnterprise System is the synergy among the range of IBM hardware and software. New software has been optimized for the zEnterprise and finely tuned to work cross-platform when used in conjunction with the new Blade Center Extension," says IBM's official statement on the new products.

Software developers and database systems engineers of all disciplines will want visibility, control and automation for applications and business services wherever possible -- and this is where this technology aims to make an impact.

IBM is clearly aware of the problem existing in many corporate data centers, where badly connected applications reside across disparate silos. One only hopes that a 10x increase in performance won't tempt software engineers to just throw more power at an inefficient deployment scenario. We need intelligent planning and provisioning from the start after all.

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