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IBM launches new
mainframe configurations

The roll-out of new options underlines the fact that the mainframe computer lives on after more than 50 years.

Despite the emergence of newer technologies, the mainframe has continued to meet the evolving needs of modern businesses, and IBM’s latest offerings are a testament to this ongoing relevance.

The mainframe has been a mainstay of the computing industry since its inception in the 1950s. Originally designed to handle large-scale data processing for scientific and military applications, the mainframe quickly became a key tool for businesses as well. Over the years, the technology has evolved to meet changing needs, with improvements in processing power, memory, and storage capacity.

Mainframes remain a crucial component of many large organisations’ IT infrastructures, handling massive amounts of data and supporting critical applications. They are particularly well-suited for industries that require high levels of reliability, security, and availability, such as finance, healthcare, and government.

IBM has been a key player in the mainframe industry since the beginning, and their ongoing investment in the technology is a clear indication of its continued relevance.  This month, it announced new single frame and rack mount configurations of its IBM z16 and IBM LinuxONE 4, designed to offer a modern, flexible hybrid cloud platform for various IT environments. The latest options are designed to be sustainable, efficient data centers that can support digitization and ongoing global uncertainty.

Based on IBM’s Telum processor, the new options are designed with sustainability in mind for highly efficient data centres, helping clients adapt to a digitised economy and ongoing global uncertainty.

Introduced in April 2022, the IBM z16 multi frame has helped transform industries with real-time AI inferencing at scale and quantum-safe cryptography. IBM LinuxONE Emperor 4, launched in September 2022, features capabilities that can reduce both energy consumption and data centre floor space while delivering the scale, performance and security that clients need. The new single frame and rack mount configurations expand client infrastructure choices and help bring these benefits to data centre environments where space, sustainability and standardisation are paramount.

“IBM remains at the forefront of innovation to help clients weather storms generated by an ever-changing market,” says Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM zSystems and LinuxONE. “We’re protecting clients’ investments in existing infrastructure while helping them to innovate with AI and quantum-safe technologies. These new options let companies of all sizes seamlessly co-locate IBM z16 and LinuxONE Rockhopper 4 with distributed infrastructure.”

Organisations in every industry are balancing an increasing number of challenges to deliver integrated digital services. According to a recent IBM Transformation Index report, among those surveyed, security, managing complex environments and regulatory compliance were cited as challenges to integrating workloads in a hybrid cloud. These challenges can be compounded by more stringent environmental regulations and continuously rising costs.

“We have seen immense value from utilising the IBM z16 platform in a hybrid cloud environment,” says  Bo Gebbie, president of Evolving Solutions. “Leveraging these very secure systems for high volume transactional workloads, combined with cloud-native technologies, has enabled greater levels of agility and cost optimisation for both our clients’ businesses and our own.”

The new IBM z16 and LinuxONE 4 offerings are built for the modern data centre to help optimise flexibility and sustainability, with capabilities for partition-level power monitoring and additional environmental metrics. For example, 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% and space by 67%.

Designed and tested to the same internal qualifications as the IBM z16 high availability portfolio, the new rack-optimised footprint is designed for use with client-owned, standard 19-inch racks and power distribution units. This new footprint opens opportunities to include systems in distributed environments with other servers, storage, SAN and switches in one rack, designed to optimise both co-location and latency for complex computing, such as training AI models.

Installing these configurations in the data centre can help create a new class of use cases, including:

  • Sustainable design: Easier integration into hot or cold aisle thermal management data centre configurations with common data centre power and cooling
  • Optimising AI solutions: With on-chip AI inferencing and the newest IBM z/OS 3.1, whether rack mount, single frame or multi frame configurations, clients can train or deploy AI models very close to where data resides, allowing clients to optimise AI
  • Data privacy: Support data sovereignty for regulated industries with compliance and governance restrictions on data location, routing local transactions through local data centres with optimised rack mount efficiency
  • Edge computing: Enable more efficient rack utilisation in limited rack space near manufacturing, healthcare devices, or other edge devices.
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