Mainframe Propeller Head

Dec 8 2010   4:18PM GMT

Gartner: Mainframers don’t care about zEnterprise blades

Ryan Arsenault Ryan Arsenault Profile: Ryan Arsenault

LAS VEGAS – zEnterprise (z196) may be doing well with its core audience according to Gartner Research VP  Mike Chuba, but reaction to the platform at Gartner was shaky, and the BladeCenter Extension flat-out negative.

Chuba mentioned that IBM projects a strong Q4 on z196 sales, but an instant poll taken at a Gartner Data Center Conference session showed that almost half of the audience, 47%, doesn’t plan to install a z196 by the end of 2011. Only 19% said they would install by mid-year 2011. The results even seemed to catch Chuba off-guard, who mentioned that IBM would certainly be disheartened by the news.

The tepid response to z196 may partly have to do with the high costs associated with mainframe software. Another live poll showed that 26% of respondents felt that single largest inhibitor to the growth in usage of the mainframe in organizations was IBM’s high software costs. Chuba mentioned that for the first time in a while third-party software was not the main inhibitor. Quipped Chuba, “You’ve realized you’re already paying a lot to IBM for their software.”

Reaction to zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) as an optional add-on to the mainframe was even more worrisome, despite the z196 blades’ ability to participate in cabinet power management when placed in the mainframe cabinet, among other benefits. Practically the entire audience polled at the mainframe session, a whopping 98%, said that they’re not likely to install a zBX before end of 2011. For one, the reasoning may be that Windows support for zBX isn’t currently in the cards, and more importantly, IBM may need a reevaluation of its marketing strategy with respect to zBX — throwing a bunch of features against the wall and hoping that something sticks may be throwing end users off.

“They need to re-announce the zBX,” said Chuba bluntly.

Phil Robert, Director of Service Management at Canadian-based Scotiabank, is a living, breathing case study of the zBX’s “miscommunication” factor – in fact, he really didn’t know much about it and mentioned that he would have to take a look at the announcement to re-familiarize himself with blade technology on zEnterprise.

In regard to z196 itself, Robert said that his company just recently upgraded to IBM’s z10 system. “We have no plans to even look at it,” said Robert of the z196.

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  • Ryan Arsenault
    I was at the Datacenter Summit in London and have a slightly different view. What confuses people about the Bladecenter Extension is that they now have to make a choice between zLinux (which was finally catching on) and a p-Systems based Linux/Unix. And it is clear that IBM has some explaining to do. The virtualization capabilities of the zEnterprise and zLinux are still far beyond that of the "normal" Linux/UNIX systems can offer, but some software simply doesn't (yet) run on zLinux. And for those who don't, AND need connection to existing mainframe data and/or applications, running them on a zBX makes a lot of sense. I have personally spoken to clients who are already using a zEnterprise and they are astonished by the raw power that this new system brings. It's like with every new technology; ([A href="http://www.ca.com/chorus"]see here[/A]) for a similar breaktrough technology that will take some getting used to. People just need a bit of time.... Especially Mainframers...
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