Mainframe users turn to IBM's z800 for cost savings

Early users of IBM's z800 low-end mainframe say the system is letting them boost processing capacity and performance while reducing their costs.

IBM said it has installed about 200 of the eSeries z800 systems, which were introduced in February and shipped a month later [QuickLink: 27438]. One of the most recent users to go live with the z800 was Russell Corp., an apparel maker in Atlanta.

Russell's move from a S/390 mainframe two weeks ago boosted its processing capacity from 260 MIPS to 350 MIPS. Bob Pearson, manager of data processing operations at Russell, said the company was attracted by the z800's processor speed and support for up to 32GB of memory.

In addition, Pearson said Russell could use the z800 as a Linux box if it adopts the open-source operating system because of virtual partitioning technology that IBM ships with its zSeries mainframes.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative in Bismarck, N.D., has replaced an aging 172-MIPS S/390 with a 192-MIPS z800. Under IBM's previous capacity-based software licenses, such a move would have automatically resulted in a steep increase in software costs, said Curtis Kovash, a senior system analyst at Basin Electric.

But Kovash added that IBM's zSeries Entry License Charge-which charges a flat software fee based on a system's model number-has resulted in a much lower monthly bill. "We're basically paying for the box with our software savings," he said, though he didn't disclose specific figures.

The z800 includes many of the system reliability and availability features found in IBM's z900 high-end mainframes but at a much lower price. While z900s often start at more than $1 million, the z800 has a base price of about $375,000.

The z800 also runs a specialized version of the z/OS operating system that IBM licenses for $1,000 to $1,200 per month. That's roughly one-tenth the average cost of the full z/OS version, IBM said.

The z800 is an attractive option for small mainframe users who are looking to expand their capacity and for companies that want to consolidate servers, said Charles King, an analyst at The Sageza Group.

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