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IBM’s System z Platform Has Many More Tricks Up Its Sleeves

Illustration by Ryan Etter

Some computing platforms—no matter how robust they were for their time—simply ceased to innovate and are now distant memories, except for serious techies who often keep examples of each on a dusty shelf somewhere. One notable exception to this is IBM’s family of mainframes. Now 50 years old, it continues a long history of new and improved functionality.

Business analytics is an example of this. Read a recent article about data and it’s sure to mention big data—that is, the growing amount of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data flowing into data centers. Converting it to actionable knowledge is no small feat, as it requires increasing the amounts of computational speed, system memory, storage and analytics-based insight.

“This movement is about taking virtualization to the next level and using it as the mechanism by which you manage your entire infrastructure, allowing you to virtualize server, storage, and network.”

Tools such as the Hadoop-based IBM InfoSphere* BigInsights* tackle the four V’s of big data—volume, variety, velocity and veracity—and allow organizations to view and act upon the many types of data that create threads of intelligent insight into, for example, customer credit card activity.

“Think about the capability to drive a set of algorithms that would score an online transaction, a banking transaction or a credit card transaction while it’s occurring to determine whether something is fraudulent. Using advanced business analytics, you’ll have more intelligence about your data and many fewer false positives than you have today,” says Jeff Frey, IBM System z* CTO.

Another hot topic is mobile computing, especially with the increasing proliferation of smartphones and tablets. Employees and customers alike want access to back-end data over Wi-Fi or cellular connections. Providing this raises serious concerns, the most notable of which is security.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at

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