IBM has introduced a new line of mainframe computer that is not only twice as powerful as its predecessor but also intended to make it easier for corporations to encrypt vast amounts of customer information and to bundle the workloads of many smaller computers onto an IBM mainframe.
The New York Times reports (27 July) that the new line, called the z9, is the result of a three-year, US$1.2 billion development effort involving 5,000 IBM engineers. Maintaining the health of the mainframe business, which accounts for a small percentage of the company's revenues these days, is still important to IBM, according to the NYT. Sales of the big machines, which typically cost several million dollars, pulls in a lot of other business for IBM, including sales of software, services, financing and other hardware, like storage systems, analysts say.
Sustaining and, if possible, expanding the mainframe business is a vital part of IBM's strategy, analysts said, adding tha over the years, IBM has done a remarkable job of renewing the mainframe despite predictions of its demise by industry analysts and rivals because of the arrival of the low-cost computing technology of the personal computer industry.
The newspaper says that the threat from server computers, powered by inexpensive PC-style microprocessors, is increasing, and companies like Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems have sizable teams focused on getting corporate customers to abandon their mainframes.
The report says that in recent years, IBM has opened up its mainframe technology to different operating systems and modern software technology like the Java programming language and web services for handling data on any computer system. And the z9, analysts say, goes further in that direction.
The new IBM mainframe is designed to make it easier for companies to increase the security of customer information stored in their computers and to manage data security, reports the newspaper.
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