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PSI consolidates IBM mainframe, Unix, Linux and Windows on single box

Mark Fontecchio
Platform Solutions Inc. (PSI) has announced its line of plug-compatible mainframe computers, which can run z/OS as well as HP-UX, Windows and Linux simultaneously and on the same system.

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Based on the Intel Itanium processor, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said that its System64 DS and ES machines are capable of scaling from 26 MIPS to 2,000 MIPS. Previously, you could get a PSI server only through T3 Technologies, which has a licensing and distribution agreement with Platform Solutions to sell its Liberty Server plug-compatible mainframes targeting small and midsized data centers.

The DS and ES (which stand for Distributed Server and Enterprise Server, respectively) are Platform Solutions' own hardware, have been shipping to early customers and will be generally available later this fall. Christian Reilly, the company's vice president of product management, said pricing will be competitive with that of IBM, which he said is around $1,200 to $1,400 per million instructions per second, or MIPS.

Consolidation creates choice
But the DS and ES aren't just IBM mainframe knock-offs. Thanks to the systems' hardware partitioning capabilities, these systems can also be used to consolidate different workloads running on different operating systems.

"What happens here -- and this is extremely important -- is you can consolidate your Windows applications on the same platform as your z/OS applications," said Dave Reine, director of enterprise systems of Wellesley, Mass.-based Clipper Group. "You can acquire the same fault tolerance on the z/OS side but also get it on the Windows side."

What happens here -- and this is extremely important -- is you can consolidate your Windows applications on the same platform as your z/OS applications.
Dave Reine,
director of enterprise systemsthe Clipper Group

The main difference between the DS and the ES is size; the DS has up to eight Itanium 2 processor cores and can run between 26 MIPS and 253 MIPS; the ES has up to 64 Itanium processor cores and can go from 225 MIPS to 2,000 MIPS. And while both support z/OS, OS/390, Windows and Linux, the DS supports z/VSE and VSE/ESA – mainframe operating systems geared toward smaller machines – as well.

"It's a Windows engine on a mainframe," Reilly said. "A lot of new applications are being built on the Windows infrastructure, and there are large-scale consolidations going on in the marketplace. They're limited now to IBM's software stack. We're providing them with more choice."

PSI was formed in 1999 from the remnants of the defunct plug-compatible mainframe vendor Amdahl, with Intel Capital and other investors providing funding in 2003. Reilly said that PSI been working on developing a mainframe alternative since then, and the System64 is an alternative. He said the company's machines will likely compete with the IBM z9 Business Class, the smaller IBM mainframe.

For its part, IBM clearly isn't happy to have another competitor in the marketplace. In December, Big Blue filed a lawsuit against PSI, claiming that PSI had violated patents for its z/OS operating system to accommodate its own hardware. In January, PSI countersued claiming that IBM was coupling its hardware with z/OS to shut out the competition. The lawsuit has not been resolved.

Could PSI put a dent in IBM's customer base? Reine said it's possible.

"They're marketing the ES to customers that require 200 [MIPS ] to 2,000 MIPS," he said. "That's covering maybe 80% of the mainframe business with that platform, and it enables consolidation with z/OS, Windows and Linux, all at the same time."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.


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