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System z delivers a solid platform for mission-critical business applications

System z delivers a solid platform for mission-critical business applications
Illustration by Barry Downard

Editor’s note: IBM and IBM Systems magazine, IBM Z are working together to produce a series of articles by IBM Fellows and Distinguished Engineers covering the latest System z mainframe developments and trends. We kick off with this article about overall strategy. An article by Gary King explores one of the areas in more detail. In later issues, look for additional detailed articles that drill down into different areas.

We live in a digital world, one that generates 15 petabytes (PB) of data every day, growing at a compound growth rate of 50 percent a year. Today’s social-media culture demands access to applications anytime, from everywhere.

More than 30 billion radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags were used in 2010. Utilities plan 300 million smart meters by 2015. Internet-connected devices are increasing 35 percent every year, and uncounted digital cameras collect data to be stored and processed. This data explosion presents both opportunity and challenge. Enterprises mine data to gain competitive advantage and insights into markets and customer behaviors, but positioning to exploit these opportunities requires an adaptive and agile infrastructure to process this mountain of data.

In the face of this growth, IT budgets remain flat while other trends apply more pressures. Government and industry regulations now drive rigorous privacy and auditing requirements. Natural disasters and terrorist activity drove more data protection and recovery regulation, yet economic trends continue to tighten budgetary reins. These combined pressures force CIOs to think about IT strategies and organizational transformation needed to be responsive to ever-changing business requirements. This can result in maniacal a focus on total costs of acquisition with some disregard for longer-term cost-of-ownership implications.

Needed is a platform that provides the efficiency, responsiveness and resiliency the business requires. System z* provides a solid foundation by supporting the mission-critical data that drives revenue and hosting business applications that consume that data.

Extended Possibilities

The latest System z server, zEnterprise* System, extends its industry-leading data-serving capabilities by improving performance, security, availability, business continuity and virtualization. The four cornerstones of System z strategy start with data serving that ensures service-level objectives (SLOs) continue to be met and surpassed. This premier data-serving platform is not only about performance and capacity, but also about data protection, security and auditability. These form fundamental parts of the System z architecture and design.

Second is a focus on analytics, ensuring the operational data is available for real-time analyses. IT trends blur the distinctions among operational data stores, traditional data warehouses and data marts. More business transactions mix online transaction processing (OLTP) with analytics to protect against fraud and provide additional customer insight and business opportunities.

Applications consuming data hosted on System z form the third segment. Here, the zEnterprise System provides choice, comprising a system of systems that provides heterogeneous system architectures to support business application components where most appropriate, with awareness of workload context and business priorities. Applications can each be hosted on the most suitable architecture within the hybrid.

The fourth area of focus is virtualization and manageability of workloads that span zEnterprise architectures. Virtualization has been ingrained into System z for decades, but we have renewed focus on workload management across virtualized resources to ensure end-to-end SLO attainment.

Resource virtualization and sharing for greater system efficiency is a System z hallmark.

Jeff Frey, an IBM Fellow, is the CTO for System z.

Jose Castano, an IBM director, is responsible for overall System z Technology and Strategy.

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