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IBM: Dinosaurs were green

Swapping 3,900 servers with 30 mainframes to save the planet

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IBM loves to put a new spin on the mainframe to keep the legacy platform looking fresh and the doomsayers at bay. And now-a-days nothing makes a technology look brand-new than a fresh coat of green.

In the first move since announcing the $1bn Project Big Green initiative in May, IBM plans to make good on its eco-friendly promise by replacing a fleet of small servers with a mere flotilla of refrigerator-sized mainframes.

More precisely, it will consolidate 3,900 Unix and x86 servers onto 30 Linux mainframes. The company says the move — which it calls one of the most significant transformations of its data centers in a generation — will save the company enough electricity to power a small town.

"The mainframe is the single most powerful instrument to drive better economics and energy conservation at the data center today," said James Stallings, IBM mainframe general manager. "By moving globally onto the mainframe platform, IBM is creating a technology platform that saves energy while positioning our IT assets for flexibility and growth."

The project will span six IBM data centers in the US, England, Japan and Australia. The consolidated units will run Linux on top of the mainframes' operating system, z/VM. IBM will also chuck its physical servers in favor of a virtual server environment.

In addition to cutting the sheer amounts of units to power, IBM said moving to mainframes will also reduce the cost of software acquisition. Software is often priced on a per-processor basis. Moving to mainframes that have significantly fewer processors than the current 3,900 servers will help minimize software licensing charges.

IBM also predicts the new infrastructure will free up the data center IT staff. The company claims its newly-liberated employees can cast aside the shackles of systems administration in favor the higher-value projects of "designing and building customer solutions".

The company plans to burn the servers on a heap of old tires next to a playground recycle the 3,900 abandoned servers through IBM Global Asset Recovery Services. ®

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