IBM Debuts Mainframe to Battle Data Leaks

By Clint Boulton

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NEW YORK -- IBM introduced a new mainframe with double the power, memory and capacity of its z990 ancestor. The company also trotted out the second iteration of its Virtualization Engine and proposed the creation of the Blade.org group.

Equipped with as many as 54 processors in one box, the z9 mainframe processes as much as one billion transactions in a day, which is a major milestone in any computing quarter.

At the core of the large computer lies the multichip module (MCM) semiconductor, which contains 16 chips. While it is roughly the same size as the z990 MCM, the improved package doubles the system capacity, said IBM officials at an event in New York.

But the most valuable asset of the new machine is the new security features: A new cryptography feature and improved hashing algorithm allow users to encrypt and transport data to customers, partners and suppliers.

Erich Clementi, general manager of IBM zSeries mainframes, said the new machine will leverage Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) (define) to enable 6,000 secure online handshakes per second, three times as many as the z990.

Such new security utilities and assurances are crucial because the corporate world has been riddled with data leaks in which personal information was compromised, Clementi said, citing recent data breaches and lost storage cartridges.

Virtualization on the z9 is also greatly improved. The system boasts 60 logical partitions (LPAR) (define), which allows users to create thousands of virtual servers.

The z9 does not discriminate, using a special "assist" processor to run Java and Linux applications alongside databases and legacy software. Linux has been one of the catalysts for the resurgence of IBM's mainframes and server business.

"The reason interest in mainframes have been growing is their ability to run workloads like [Linux]," said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president of IBM's Systems and Technology Group, in his opening address. Citing IDC figures, Zeitler noted how IBM is continuing to grab server market share after a decade of waning systems revenues.

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