News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Consolidation sparks mainframe revival

Two recent deals with German firms, one for the implementation of 20 z990s, reflect how the econmic demand to consolidate servers is driving sales of IBM's premier mainframe.

For the second time in as many weeks, IBM has announced a mega deal with a German company in the banking industry to overhaul its IT infrastructure using its zSeries mainframes and storage.

Postbank, which has 11.5 million customers and is the biggest private customer bank in Germany, is running its new backbone IT system -- an SAP transaction platform -- on an infrastructure developed by IBM.

The existing Fujitsu-Siemens mainframe system was replaced with IBM zSeries and pSeries servers. Four IBM z900 mainframes will be used as SAP database servers and for additional back-office applications. DB2/zOS provides the database platform for SAP/AM in data sharing mode.

Last week, IBM announced that Sparkassen Informatik, one of the largest providers of IT services for the German banking industry, has purchased 20 IBM z990 "T-Rex" mainframes to anchor one of the largest IT consolidation projects ever undertaken. The four-year deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, IBM said.

"This is the biggest deal of its kind I've ever seen," said Edward Broderick, principal analyst at the Robert Frances Group, of the Sparkassen Informatik deal.

Without a doubt, both deals are a reflection of the growing demand for the z990 mainframe, which Broderick refers to as a "glorious implementation of technology, the maturity of zOS, autonomic computing and on-demand."

"They have taken a legacy mainframe and injected vigor and enthusiasm into what people thought was dead," he said. "It's not dead. It's not in the hospital. It's not even sick. Companies are now figuring out that client/server was a smoke-and-mirror charade."

Not only is it not dead, it's actually thriving. According to IBM's fourth-quarter results, sales of the monolithic server were up 33% from the previous year. Some say the surge could just be the natural spike in sales expected following the release of the much-anticipated T-Rex z990 mainframe, which experts say breathed life into an ailing platform.

Mike Kahn, analyst with the Wellesley, Mass.-based Clipper Group, said that in the past year there have been a number of very large companies reconsidering how they do enterprise processing. But, he said, this idea isn't just about the mainframe. It's about consolidation.

"I think what's going on with the mainframe is that businesses recognize that the mainframe has all the characteristics of a consolidated platform," he said. "And, I think you'll see more consolidation."

As major financial institutions in Europe seek to expand their services, IBM is winning deals because of its ability to simplify the IT environment by reducing the number of servers and storage, yet provide the capability to meet any demand, experts say. Businesses such as Postbank and Sparkassen Informatik (SI) are dealing with mammoth amounts of data, and the cost of consolidating as well as upgrading has now become very attractive.

In fact, SI consolidated from 36 z900 mainframes to 20 z990s, providing an increase in processing capacity to 100,000 MIPS. SI estimates that its services currently support 30 million end users throughout Germany. A company spokesman said it expects to save 200 million euros by the beginning of 2005.

"There are a lot of incentives on the z990 to consolidate, and most of it has to do with economics," Kahn said. "Businesses are choosing to upgrade for economic reasons. They don't have to upgrade. IBM has made it very attractive to do so."

Postbank's new infrastructure is accessed by more than 9,000 branch offices, and it handles more than 10 million customer accounts, as well as millions of debit-card and checking transactions every day -- and is now able to double this number on demand.

The SAP/AM giro-transaction system, which has been running since October, processes customer transactions from the bank's online and IVR (interactive voice response) services, as well as its branch offices. This is believed to be one of the largest SAP implementations worldwide.

The Postbank solution was designed around the need for capacity on demand, utilizing IBM's autonomic computing features and built-in high availability and data security capabilities.

The new server and storage infrastructure is part of the project that Postbank began in 2000 and has since completed successfully.

Postbank will also use IBM systems and storage to expand into new offerings, such as outsourcing by handling the process payment transactions for Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank in the future.


Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Kate Evans-Correia, senior news editor.

That's right -- mainframe sees spike in sales

Dig Deeper on IBM system z and mainframe systems

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.