The IBM iseries 890: Delivering Mainframe Advantages to Your Business

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1 The Power of Mainframe Computing September 2002 The IBM iseries 890: Delivering Mainframe Advantages to Your Business By Frank G. Soltis IBM iseries Chief Scientist IBM Corporation

2 i890: Delivering Mainframe Advantages to Your Business Page 2 Contents 2 The Mainframe Conundrum 3 What s so Special about Mainframes? 4 Leveraged Investment 5 Flexibility 6 Computing Power and I/O Performance 7 High Availability 7 High Security 8 Mainframe Capability, iseries Simplicity 3-8 Sidebar Why Categories are Important The IBM ~ iseries 890, the newest member of the iseries product line, is referred to as a mainframe. Why? While it delivers all of the traditional iseries advantages such as simplicity of operations, leveraged investment, reliability and security, it also delivers the key business benefits, high performance and technology that have long been associated primarily with mainframes. This paper examines what those mainframe benefits are, why they re important to your business, and how the i890 embodies them through the application of advanced IBM ~ technology. The mainframe conundrum The term mainframe carries with it strong imagery. Mainframes are the big iron, the huge computers that have driven the largest corporations for decades. Mainframes are very powerful and extremely reliable, built specifically to handle large-scale, mission-critical business applications where downtime means significant losses. Mainframes are stable, often running traditional applications year after year without so much as a hiccup. Mainframes also are where advanced computing technologies such as clustering first were developed. For many organizations with limited IT resources, however, the deployment of a mainframe has been thought of as beyond reach. The perception has been that, as desirable as mainframe computing attributes are, the challenge of moving to a mainframe might be too great. With the introduction of the i890 server, this has changed. The i890 server effectively combines true mainframe-class capabilities and power with established iseries advantages that have made iseries servers so popular with small and mid-sized businesses...those same businesses that have thought mainframes were not for them. iseries servers have always been designed, first and foremost, to deliver simplicity. They provide tremendous ease of management, application flexibility and low total cost of ownership through an innovative integrated design, simple centralized systems management and unique storage and memory sharing architecture. These are the key attributes demanded by organizations facing cost and IT resource pressures. The iseries also benefits from IBM ~

3 Page 3 SIDEBAR: Why categories are important Why is choosing to call the i890 server a mainframe significant? It has to do with how IT architectures are perceived... or in the mainframe s case, misperceived. Many business customers (including iseries customers) tend to dismiss the very idea of deploying a mainframe as impractical. Mainframes are too large and complex, the thinking goes, with layer upon layer of hardware and software to integrate and manage. Images of big boxes, big data centers and big budgets abound. technology (see sidebar), which brings advanced technologies originally developed in other server families to bear. Each new iseries server has delivered increasing levels of computing performance, capacity, scalability and expandability. Where the i890 breaks new ground is in the outstanding performance provided by its new processors. This is one of the advancements that places the i890 firmly in the mainframe class, but it s not just processing power that s important. Mainframes deliver other business advantages, and the i890 server shares them as well. What s so special about mainframes? Mainframes have always held a key role in business computing. No other computing platform can deliver the level of high-utilization, transaction-intensive computing performance the kind of computing employed by mission-critical business applications that a mainframe can. But what is a mainframe, exactly? Mainframes are not necessarily the biggest or fastest. In fact, there probably is no precise definition for the mainframe that satisfies everyone. Perhaps the best way to define the mainframe is to look not at the hardware, but at what it s built to do...and at the advantages it offers. In its simplest form, mainframes are data and transaction servers able to handle a variety of job types simultaneously at very high utilizations, as opposed to the numerically-intensive, relatively low transaction type of computing for which supercomputers are built. But a mainframe goes beyond just a server: it s a set of valued attributes designed specifically to deliver the kind of performance required for high-end business computing. How does the i890 server fit into this concept? As noted in the sidebar, IBM s approach is to spread technologies between different computing platforms. Most notable is the ongoing percolation of high-end, mainframe-class technologies that originated in the IBM ~ zseries server and its predecessors to the other platforms. Eventually, so much of this advanced, mainframe-class technology is built into a given server that it makes sense to apply the mainframe label itself. With the i890 server, that point has been reached.

4 Page 4 SIDEBAR - continued This view of the mainframe is misinformed. Mainframes have continued their advancement and are not what they once were. Today s mainframes are easier to manage and more cost-effective than the outdated, stereotypical image would have one believe. In addition, mainframe-class technology is now appearing in systems that have not traditionally been thought of as mainframes, such as the famously easy-tomanage iseries product line. Here are some of the key traditional attributes of mainframes, why they re important in a business context and a look at how the i890 server stacks up: Leveraged investment Computing architectures that do not provide backward compatibility are poor business choices and can ultimately saddle a business with a mission-critical legacy application running on a dead-end platform. Stability is absolutely vital in a business environment, and the more mission-critical the application, the more important it becomes. Compared to the knowledge that the platform will still be around in five or even ten years, serving the business needs as well as it does today, all the fast processors and monstrous disk drives in the world fade to insignificance. One of the hallmarks of IBM mainframes over the years has been their ability to continuously evolve with the newest technologies and the newest application environments while still leveraging customer investments in application software and training. A customer could have written an application or a routine back in the 1960s and that code, even if it was written in assembler language, can still run today. The mainframe has a secret weapon that it uses to support new application or programming environments that become important to mainframe customers: microcode. Through it, the mainframe has been able to continuously change the underlying architecture to support new environments. Because these microcode changes are usually additions, older environments are also supported by the new architecture. The iseries platform has a similar secret weapon to maximize customer investments in application software and personnel training, called the System Licensed Internal Code (SLIC). Like the microcode used in mainframes, SLIC allows the architecture of iseries servers to evolve to meet new needs of customers. New technologies and new application environments are constantly being added to enhance the system architecture. Yet, like the mainframe, older environments are also supported by the new architecture. As a result, the i890 server is fully capable of running older applications if needed, right alongside newer applications...just as mainframes do.

5 Page 5 SIDEBAR - continued This movement of technologies across old dividing lines goes to the heart of the IBM ^ concept. Accordingly, IBM crosspollinated its server technologies by launching the IBM ^ product line. Leveraging customer investment also means being able to easily scale or upgrade the system to meet new demands. One way that IBM mainframes accomplish this is by allowing the simple addition of new machines to existing clusters. The i890 uses a similar approach, with the ability to directly attach multiple physical servers together via a high-speed link, while still managing them as a single system. In addition, IBM has created a clear upgrade path within the iseries that allows customers to upgrade and scale their systems over the long term without having to start over. The i890 server also offers Capacity Upgrade on Demand, in which additional processing capacity is preinstalled, but paid for only when activated. Flexibility Flexibility in a business sense means not being tied down to a particular application or operating environment. Mainframes have supported multiple operating systems and multiple, mixed workloads since the beginning. This is a key mainframe capability that enables businesses to consolidate operations onto a single system while sharing resources...even shuffling them between applications through advanced workload management technologies. The i890 server, like zseries mainframes, gives business customers wide latitude in choosing, mixing and dynamically managing operating systems and workloads. Native OS/400 applications (both interactive and client-server), Linux, ported UNIX and even Microsoft Windows applications can all coexist within the same server footprint. Thanks to logical partitioning (LPAR, another technology that comes straight from mainframes) and IBM s unique Integrated xseries Server and Integrated xseries Adapter, a single i890 server can fill the role of a room full of discrete servers running diverse operating systems, all while sharing system management and hardware resources. The flexibility of the i890 server is further enhanced through mainframe-like dynamic workload management, which allows resources to be shifted from one partition to another on the fly, without having to restart the system. This dynamic workload management capability directly mirrors that of IBM mainframes. These attributes make the i890 server ideal for server consolidation, which has the potential to further drive down ownership costs by reducing hardware investment and consolidating management.

6 Page 6 SIDEBAR - continued The sharing of IBM ^ technologies goes in both directions. For example, advanced mainframe-class technologies such as logical partitioning (LPAR), which enables processor capacity to be divided into multiple virtual systems, were brought out of the mainframe camp and implemented in other server lines such as the i890. On the other side, technologies such as simplified systems management, a hallmark of iseries, have been propagated upwards into the zseries product line. Computing power and I/O performance A central characteristic of mainframes is high performance in a business context. High performance is often thought to mean raw computational power, but for business uses the ability to move large amounts of data through the system (input/output) is equally important. Mainframes are not always the highest performance computers when measured by narrow computational speed criteria. That distinction usually goes to the supercomputers, which are designed to support very specific types of applications that typically fall into the category of numeric-intensive computing. For general-purpose business applications, however, the mainframe generally comes out ahead in terms of computational power. The POWER4 processors used in the i890 server provide an interesting mix of supercomputer performance and general-purpose computing. These exact same processors power IBM supercomputers. Their role in the i890 server, however, is to provide high performance in a general-purpose, businesscomputing environment. This is borne out by the benchmark records that have been set by the POWER4 processors in the i890 server and the IBM ~ pseries 690. Business computing, unlike scientific and technical computing, places a premium on transactional processing, with high demands on bandwidth and connectivity. An ultra-fast processor is useless if it wastes time waiting for the rest of the system to catch up. For this reason, mainframes have always emphasized a balanced system design in I/O performance and bandwidth because of its central role in business computing. With a peak bandwidth of 205 gigabytes per second, the i890 server has the highest memory bandwidth in the industry. No other computer, can match it. The i890 server also offloads the I/O processing from the main processors to hundreds of dedicated I/O processors, which frees the main processors for actual computation and thereby further boosts I/O performance. This is clearly a mainframe feature. Other systems generally use the main processors for both application and I/O processing. In fact, there are only two major systems that use this idea of intelligent I/O: the iseries and zseries mainframes.

7 Page 7 SIDEBAR - continued The result is that old perceptions and definitions need reassessment. The dividing lines are increasingly blurred: Mainframes are no longer the complex, hard-to-manage systems they once were. Midrange computers no longer lack the advanced, powerful capabilities that have always made mainframes desirable. Therefore, a business that might otherwise have ruled out mainframes (and the significant business benefits they offer) in the past should take a fresh look and rethink those long-held beliefs. High availability Mainframe servers need to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many businesses requiring a mainframe demand this level of availability. It is small wonder then that some of the most available systems anywhere are IBM mainframes. IBM s introduction of the Parallel Sysplex (a collection of systems that cooperate, sharing resources and allowing applications to communicate directly with one another) provided a major leap forward in system availability. A clustered approach, such as a Parallel Sysplex, uses redundancy and data sharing to achieve the highest possible availability. Basically, this type of cluster can be configured in such a way that there is no single point of failure. The iseries also provides high availability solutions, but with a slightly different focus. Because most iseries customers have only a single server, the focus of the iseries is to achieve the highest single-system availability. Of course, iseries cluster solutions are also available for those customers who need higher availability than can be achieved with a single system. High security Hackers in movies are sometimes shown breaking into a mainframe. In reality, however, this is rarely possible. The emphasis on security has been paramount in the design of the mainframe from the very beginning. The newest and most sophisticated security technologies have been introduced into the operating systems over the years, such as digital certificates, authentication, intrusion detection technology, the ability to protect LPARs from one another and virtual private networks. Some security measures have even been introduced through microcode enhancements. The goal has been to make the mainframe as secure as it possibly can be. Starting in the 1980s, IBM began shipping only object code (as opposed to source code) for its mainframe operating systems. By hiding many of the internal details of the operating system, it becomes more difficult for a hacker to find a way to bypass the security. It also makes it very difficult to create a virus that can be introduced into the system. The iseries product line subscribes to the same security philosophies. Since the AS/400 was introduced in 1988, the details of OS/400 and SLIC have

8 Page 8 been hidden. This, along with the design of the system architecture, has made the iseries extremely secure and virus-resistant. And like zseries servers, the iseries product line incorporates the latest security measures as they are developed. Because of its outstanding record of security since introduction, there are those who believe that the iseries is today the most secure server a business can buy. Mainframe capability, iseries simplicity Now, for the first time, a business server is available that is among the most powerful available, while also being among the easiest to manage and most costeffective to own. Advanced IBM ~ technology is the key. The i890 server exemplifies the intelligent application of technology with a clear business computing purpose. It s not a display of technology for the sake of technology. It s the application of advanced technology with the goal of increasing simplicity, capability and performance while decreasing costs and management headaches. What it means to business customers is the best of both worlds: true mainframe-class functionality, performance, reliability, availability, security and investment leverage combined with iseries manageability, application flexibility and low cost of ownership. It s enterprise IT management made simple: high tech, low stress.

9 Copyright IBM Corporation 2002 IBM Corporation Integrated Marketing Communications, Server Group Route 100 Somers, NY10589 Published in the United States of America 9-02 All Rights Reserved References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in every country in which IBM operates. The information may be subject to change without notice. Consult your local IBM business contact for information on the products, features and services available in your area. IBM, the IBM logo, the e-business logo, AS/400, iseries, OS/400, pseries, Parallel Sysplex, POWER4, xseries and zseries are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group in the United States and other countries. Other company, product, and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. Regardless, our warranty terms apply. This equipment is subject to all applicable FCC rules and will comply with them upon delivery. Information concerning non-ibm products was obtained from the suppliers of these products and does not constitute an endorsement of such products by IBM. Questions on the capabilities of the non-ibm products should be addressed to the suppliers. GM

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