IBM Revamps OS/390

IBM Corp. will begin shipping in March an upgrade of its OS/390 mainframe operating system -- Version 2.7 -- that features a raft of enhancements in areas like networking, security and systems management, improvements IBM hopes will increase the viability of S/390 mainframes for electronic commerce.

"We are delivering with Release 7 a set of enhancements that are targeted at and coincide with a tidal wave of e-business demands for faster, easier and more reliable access to data," said Doug Balog, IBM's director of S/390 software product management, during a teleconference this morning.

This latest upgrade to OS/390 is part of IBM's ongoing attempt to position its mainframe systems as better options than high-end Unix servers for running new applications.

"There's also an ever-increasing awareness that conventional, distributed architectures are extremely limited in their ability to grow as applications grow in scale ... That's where OS/390 fits in. And why we're seeing an increasing focus of companies seeking to overcome those limitations with OS/390," Balog said.

The OS/390 networking software, called eNetwork Communications Server for OS/390, has been enhanced in several ways in version 2.7. First, it now comes with new support for a Gigabit Ethernet adapter, an addition expected to give users more throughput than with the Fast Ethernet support already present and to help relieve network congestion in TCP/IP networks, officials said during the teleconference.

Second, the operating system upgrade also has a new feature called Enterprise Extender, designed to let users converge all their SNA (Systems Network Architecture) and IP traffic onto a single IP network, officials said. In a test conducted by IBM, the Enterprise Extender feature increased the rate of data transfers ten-fold in an S/390 environment handling both SNA and IP networks, officials said.

Another improvement in the networking functionality of OS/390 is the new Service Policy Agent, designed to let network administrators assign specific amounts of bandwidth and different levels of priority to different users and applications.

Version 2.7 of OS/390 also comes with enhancements for the system's Web server, called the WebSphere Application Server for OS/390, such as automated support for digital certificates and for Java servlets, officials said.

The OS/390 component for porting Unix applications to the S/390 platform, called Unix System Services, also has been enhanced. Its Data Facility Storage Management Systems (DFSMS/MVS) has been revamped to include a restructured HFS (Hierarchical File System), which should result in significant performance improvements, officials said.

OS/390 2.7's systems management features have also been extended. The operating system upgrade has a new agent that allows users to manage S/390 mainframes from the Tivoli Systems Inc. systems management console.

The operating system upgrade also offers new security enhancements, such as a set of new SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) API functions for developers.

Finally, IBM also announced that those users of the S/390 Parallel Sysplex clustering software whose clusters exceed 1,800 MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second) will get a 25-percent reduction in the cost of their software. This new pricing structure, called Parallel Sysplex Level D Pricing, will be available from April 1, IBM said.

IBM, in Armonk, New York, can be reached at http://www.ibm.com/. More information about IBM's S/390 mainframes can be found at http://www.s390.ibm.com/.

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