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IBM tweaks its z14 mainframe to make it a better physical fit for the data center

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IBM is making rack-mounted versions – ZR1 and Rockhopper II – of its latest z14 mainframe, that are able to securely run containerized software.


IBM is widening its mainframe range with some narrower models – ZR1 and Rockhopper II – that are skinny enough to fit in a standard 19-inch rack, which will answer criticisms of potential customers that the hulking z14 introduced in July 2017 too big to fit in their data centers (see photo above).

In addition to new, smaller, packaging for its z14 hardware, IBM is also introducing Secure Service Container technology. This makes use of the z14’s encryption accelerator and other security capabilities to protect containerized applications from unwanted interference.

When IBM introduced the z14 last July, with an accelerator to make encrypting information standard practice in the data center, there was one problem: The mainframe’s two-door cabinet was far too deep and too wide to fit in standard data center aisles.

That non-standard shape will have put a brake on sales of the z14 even as IBM was pushing its pervasive encryption capabilities as perfect for securing cloud-computing operations.

“Data centers operate at scale. So, ideally, everything they work with should be standardized. Anything non-standard interferes with the ability to scale,” said Roger L. Kay, founder and president of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

In slimming down to fit in a single frame, the z14 has had to give up some things: The rack-mounted ZR1 can have a maximum of 30 processor cores, compared to 170 in the usual two-door version, but even that could be an advantage because it makes the ZR1 price lower than that of the heavyweight one.

“The appeal of a skinny system will be in its price-performance,” said Kay. “Many of the new sales will likely come from smaller firms that have not been able to afford a mainframe in the past.”

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Article Credit: NW

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