Introducing the zEnterprise 114 (Updated)

It's new mainframe day! IBM has announced the zEnterprise 114, a particularly clever mainframe package which replaces the System z10 BC. The z114 is the little brother to last year's z196 super-mainframe, but keep in mind the z114 is in every way a real mainframe. A single z114 can handle more processing than IBM's fully configured top-of-the-line mainframe from just a few years ago. In no particular order, here's a list of the z114's improvements that I particularly like:

  • For the first time that I can remember, and certainly for the first time since 64-bit z/Architecture debuted, all of IBM's mainframe models feature flexible, modular processor configurations. That is, you can order a z114 with either one or two processor "drawers" installed. I love that flexibility, particularly because it means that IBM has found a very smart way to lower the costs of entry into the mainframe world, so more businesses and governments can buy their first mainframe and enjoy its benefits. You can order an M05 hardware model and then, when/if you need more than 5 configurable cores, you can upgrade to an M10. (And you can still continue upgrading to z196 machines when/if needed.)
  • Processor power and capacity are, of course, improved. That wasn't at all a problem with the System z10 BC, but it's always nice to see more performance in the smaller mainframe package. Uniprocessor performance is up 18%, for example. Clock speed is up to 3.8 GHz, which is a rather high-end number. Maximum z/OS capacity per z114 machine is up well past 3,000 MIPS, not including specialty engines.
  • Coupling facility capacity is up a lot, too. If you need a dedicated coupling facility machine, the z114 is more likely to meet or exceed requirements.
  • The z114 supports more memory than the z10 BC, but most of that increase is allocated to memory protection in the form of RAIM (Redundant Array of Independent Memory). Yes, the "little" mainframe gets exactly the same mainframe-unique memory protection that its big brother got last year — and which no other server has.
  • Likewise, the z114 M10 provides a mandatory minimum of two spare cores, just like its big brother. The M10 also offers processor drawer redundancy. In the incredibly unlikely event a drawer or a core fails, the system stays up and running. If that capability is valuable, you can order the M10. For the rest of us (which is most of us), the M05 is perfectly fine and still better than its predecessors. Adding or replacing a processor drawer requires a planned outage, at least for now. Considering that everyone did perfectly well without that feature for decades, until the System z9 EC in late 2005, I think IBM can be forgiven for not getting that bit of work done just yet. (I think it's a moot issue anyway if you have a physical Sysplex.)
  • You can run the z114 on high-voltage DC power or on AC, with or without a raised floor, and with top or bottom cable exit. In other words, you can put a z114 pretty much anywhere, including inside a mobile data center.
  • Yes, you can add the zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) to your z114. You can run the IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer, DataPower blades, all the other blade features — all centrally managed by the z114.
  • You can order z114 machines now, and you can take delivery in September. Model upgrades from System z9 BC and z10 BC machines are available at the same time.
  • IBM introduced "Advanced Entry Workload License Charges" (AEWLC) to go with the new z114, aimed specifically at smaller mainframe customers running single, standalone machines (with or without internal Sysplex clusters). Otherwise, AWLC is available for physical z114 Sysplexes, so that's good, too. AEWLC, AWLC, and IWP represent the technology dividends: you can enjoy the same performance and throughput for a substantially lower software license charge, or you can enjoy substantially more performance and throughput for the same software license charge compared to the System z10 BC. All I hear about is that everybody else everywhere else is increasing software license charges and maintenance charges. For well over a decade IBM has been slashing software prices on its mainframes, so you get way more bang for the buck (or euro or yen). I really hope people understand this stuff by now.

All goodness. Nice job, IBM.

UPDATE: IBM has issued a press release highlighting the new z114 mainframe. Indeed, IBM says that the z114 has a U.S. "starting price of under $75,000." That's the lowest price ever for an IBM mainframe and a big 25% reduction from the previous entry price. Also, according to Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Register, on an equal performance comparison IFLs (Linux processors) on the z114 are priced 37.5% lower. There are big price reductions across the board, though, for both hardware and software. It's clear IBM is determined to convince many new customers to buy their first mainframes.

by Timothy Sipples July 12, 2011 in Economics, Innovation, Systems Technology
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That price point is low enough that it will hopefully get a lot of new customers off the fence and have them consider a z114 instead of an expensive set of Intel-based Linux servers.

Posted by: Anthony Giorgio | Jul 13, 2011 8:27:43 AM

Do you think the blade technology will create a situation where Mainframe experts will need to support and learn additional technologies such as x86/Windows plugged into the 114?
At Softlib we provide sophisticated knowledge discovery and management software for technical organizations and this could be a good fit in terms of the diversified technology environment

Posted by: Boaz | Jul 19, 2011 3:28:46 AM

While domain-specific experts will always be essential, businesses and governments also need talented individuals who know enough about multiple domains to be effective. It has been true for decades that, in order to succeed, IT organizations need cross-domain experts who understand both mainframes and other types of servers. The zBX simply highlights that fact, and it also reduces the amount of required domain-specific knowledge a bit. If anything, the zBX will prompt some dysfunctional IT organizations who don't have sufficient cross-domain capabilities to become at least slightly functional.

Posted by: Timothy | Jul 19, 2011 4:44:09 AM

Timothy,

Could you just clarify what exactly is included in the "starting price of under $75,000?" What performance model does this price refer to? Presumably it includes the minimum 8GB RAM, but how many network adapters, how many FICON channels, and how much disk storage is included in this price?

Posted by: Roger Bowler | Jul 25, 2011 10:58:06 AM

Any information yet about what is included for the $75,000 price, Timothy? Or is this just IBM marketing hype?

Posted by: Roger Bowler | Jul 26, 2011 4:52:47 AM

IBM announced that the U.S. starting price for a z114 mainframe is under $75,000. I think IBM knows what their prices are. :-)

"Starting" is quite understandable plain English. Go to the announcement letter, omit all options, choose the starting configuration for all features, and you have an under $75K z114 mainframe. A real, honest-to-goodness mainframe that's better in every way than its predecessor. Not complicated.

Posted by: Timothy | Jul 26, 2011 8:27:07 AM

OK, let's go to Hardware Announcement ENUS111-136. There's a full list of features all right, but no mention of which of those features make up the starting configuration. However, if we go to the z114 specifications page http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/z/hardware/zenterprise/z114_specs.html we can see that the minimum specifications for a model 2818-M05 are 8GB memory, 0 CPU, 0 channels, and 0 OSA cards. Disk storage is not part of the system either of course. Now I don't think that a system with no CPU's, no network connections, no channels, and no DASD is particularly useful to anybody, so I am assuming that the $75,000 price (unless it is a total fantasy) must include at least some of the optional features. And I don't think it's an unreasonable question to ask exactly which features are included in that much-touted starting price. I eagerly await enlightenment!

Posted by: Roger Bowler | Jul 26, 2011 11:16:57 AM

I don't understand your point. Do you think IBM *didn't* reduce its mainframe hardware prices (again) with the z114?

I don't know anybody who is upset about IBM mainframe price reductions except IBM's competitors.

Posted by: Timothy | Jul 27, 2011 7:23:17 AM

Timothy, my point is that I would like to know exactly what is the specification of the much-touted $75,000 entry machine. How many CPs, how much memory, how many network adapters, how many channels, and how much DASD do you get for this price? A not unreasonable question, I think! You are usually able to provide very detailed information about IBM offerings, so I am surprised to find that you don't have this level of information available on this occasion. A list of the feature codes included in the $75,000 entry level offering would tie it down nicely.

Posted by: Roger Bowler | Jul 28, 2011 11:34:24 AM

Roger,
Why do you think DASD would be included in the price of the z114 mainframe? Most people would want the freedom to optimally configure their storage array. This is a mainframe, not a laptop PC. Have a look at that URL provided by Timothy. (There's no extra cost for a CPU.)

Actually, the z114 got even better since July! It now supports z/OS® AND Microsoft Windows operating environments.

Posted by: Ellie K | Nov 24, 2011 7:22:47 AM

Price mentioned is very low. It will get lot of customers. Here is another list of prices. Laptop prices in Pakistan

Posted by: Laptop prices in pakistan | Jan 24, 2012 6:53:31 AM

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