IBM lowers mainframe costs with new server

IBM has announced a new mainframe computer with a price tag significantly lower for Australian enterprises than its previous products.

Aimed at customers looking to run a number of applications on one centralised machine, IBM has launched the z800 server with a new version of its mainframe operating system called z/OS.e, which has been tweaked for workload consolidation.

Priced locally from $800,000, the server will come with a software licence, maintenance contract and one of the four processors 'turned on' for that price.

IBM claims mainframe sales have been the company's bright spot during a rough 15-month period for hardware vendors.

Customers have been looking for a way to run a number of applications such as CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning) and databases off one larger server instead of numerous small systems, said Rich Lechner, vice president of sales and marketing for the zSeries at IBM in the US.

IBM will sell eight different configurations of the z800, which serve as complementary systems to the Linux-only mainframe that IBM announced last month.

Like the z800, the Linux-only mainframe is designed to run multiple applications such as print serving and file serving on a system that starts under $US400,000.

Sun Microsystems and Compaq Computer have been particularly aggressive in trying to take some of the mainframe pie by offering powerful Unix servers in Sun's case and large clusters of Intel-based servers at Compaq.

Sun and Compaq claim their approach gives customers the same kind of performance and hardware uptime as a mainframe, but at a lower cost.

An IBM spokesperson said even the entry-level configuration of the z800 should lets users ditch dozens of Unix or Intel servers and save on both data centre space and management costs.

IBM is also including its Parallel Sysplex technology for networking multiple mainframes together with the z800, which could be used to help with data recovery tasks or for extra power.

The z800 should be available in Australia at the end of March.

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