IBM aims System z at specific workloads

Big Blue wants to turn around mainframe sales by targeting new niches and stressing its power and scale

IBM is trying to shore up flagging sales of its System z mainframe with a set of hardware, software and services combinations aimed at specific application workloads.

The seven bundles announced Friday target data warehousing, application development, disaster recovery, SOA (service oriented architecture), security, electronic payments and SAP applications. The last one is an update of a package IBM first announced 18 months ago.

System z sales have plummeted during the economic recession, as companies rein in capital spending and increasingly turn to cheaper commodity hardware to support their IT systems. Revenue for the category plummeted 39 percent year-over-year in IBM's most recent quarter.

IBM has been attempting to turn the tide by consistently touting the mainframe's superior reliability and power. The new Solution Editions are meant to portray it as an ideal platform for many different computing scenarios.

For example, the SAP edition allows customers to maintain their application data in one database instance instead of chopping it up and spreading it across multiple machines, according to IBM's Web site.

Pricing for the bundles will vary according to customer requirements, but will be competitive and represent savings over buying the components separately, according to an IBM spokeswoman. An entry-level System z machine costs US$100,000.

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