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IBM starts shipping on March 29 a lower-priced, entry-level mainframe designed to make the platform more attractive to medium-sized businesses.

The zSeries 800 features Big Blue's Parallel Sysplex clustering technology, enabling the networking of mainframes to improve application availability.

The server is designed for applications like server consolidation. Using its z/VM virtualisation technology, the z800 is capable of consolidating as few as 20 or "up to hundreds" of Intel or Sun servers on a single mainframe box.

The new system will be available in eight models, as well as a Linux-only mainframe version. They will come in one-way to four-way processor configurations and with 8GB of central memory at standard, which can be increased up to 32GB.

The boxen will be outfitted with IBM's "self-healing, self-managing" technologies and HiperSocket technology, which improves memory speed communication between virtual servers. You can read more about the technology and packaged storage add-ons here.

Phil Payne, of Isham Research, has had a good look at the performance of the new medium-sized zSeries mainframe (formerly codenamed Raptor), which he reckons offers a base processor speed around 185 MIPS, yielding perhaps 80 to 625 or so MIPS across the range in production.

IBM has also announced z/OS.e - a specially priced operating system offering of the zSeries 64 bit operating system, designed for new e-business workloads including WebSphere application server software, DB2 databases and MQSeries applications.

IBM makes about a third of its mainframe revenues on licensing its software, which was a bigbarrier for new mainframe deployments. With z/OS.e IBM is charging a tenth of this price (which might compare favourably with Microsoft licensing charges), but this applies only to new applications and smaller deployments, Payne told us.

He added that existing mainframe users will end up paying about the same as before because z/OS.e applies to new applications and isn't suitable for mainstream corporate workloads. ®

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External links

'Raptor' surfaces - as the z800, from Isham Research
IBM's announcement

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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