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IBM ships revamped mainframe

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IBM is to begin shipment of its first G7 mainframe, today, as well as an enhanced storage system.

Big Blue hopes the revamped products will reinvigorate mainframe sales and improve its position in the market against Sun and storage rival EMC.

As previously reported, IBM announced a number of improved technical features to Freeway, or its z900, when it re-branded its server line in October. However, companies put off purchases of older S/390 mainframes in anticipation of the product.

Phil Payne, of independent analysts Isham Research, said the main enhancement of the zSeries over S/390 is the move from 31-bit to 64-bit addressing space. He explained that a 31-bit system did not provide a wide-enough addressing space to run the largest database systems efficiently.

Another key improvement, according to IBM, is the tripling of internal bandwidth from 8GBps on the G6 to 24GBps on the G7.

Software licensing for the z900 will be based on so-called workload-level charging, where software costs are based on how many processors a program run on not, as now, the overall size on the machine. However this will be difficult to implement, said Payne, and involve negotiations with individual users, which alongside other issues, means the scheme is unlikely to be introduced until October.

IBM will tout the merits of Linux on mainframes.

Evidence of its push here is that, earlier this month Scandinavian telco Telia announced it will install a combination of IBM mainframe and Shark storage technology, both running on Linux, to host and run their business and consumer Internet services operations. The deal means Telia will kick out 70 existing Sun servers with a single IBM S/390 G6 enterprise server, which will host more than 1500 virtual internet Linux servers simultaneously.

According to IDC figures released yesterday, IBM maintained its lead in the worldwide server market, but Sun Microsystems made significant gains, growing its revenues to move from fourth to second place in the market.

On the storage front, the Shark Enterprise Storage Server will include features that allow the speedy copying of data and full support for Fibre Channel. ®

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