IBM Z Goes Rack Mount

The Six Five team discusses IBM Z going Rack Mount.

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Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, I spent nearly a week in Poughkeepsie where it snowed and half the city shut down. It was a really good event. We talked a little bit about this conference, but what we couldn’t talk about was the news, and that was the IBM Z mainframe goes rack. So what does that mean? So since I think 1964, every time that you had to buy an IBM mainframe, it came – you had to buy the entire rack. And that rack was in so-called industry standard size. Industry standard size, in other words, X86 is 19 inches. And you also came with special power requirements. So you had to buy the rack, and it typically came with IBM networking, came with IBM storage. But for the first time, you can buy a single module with IBM Z to put in the same rack as you put all of your X86 stuff, you can plug it into the same power plane as you do everything else, and this is a big deal.

So first of all, it removes yet another set of objections why people wouldn’t adopt Z. But what you get here is you get seven nines of resiliency, which there’s not a single X86 platform out there that can do this. You get on-system machine learning acceleration with the Telum chip, you get full-time, all the time accelerated and quantum safe cryptography based on these blocks on the Telum chip; sir, you can supersize that with a special card and it runs Linux, Red Hat Linux and containerized applications. And it does all of this with much lower power for certain applications than any flavor of X86 you can get out there. So you can imagine all the X86 players are talking about consolidation, but I think IBM could make a play that is consolidating the consolidators, which I don’t know, I like to crack myself up every day.

What I’d love to see IBM do with this opportunity now is come up with an as-a-service appliance model. So for instance, we all saw literally the order of magnitude improvement with MongoDB. I’d love to see IBM, its partners, take that MongoDB as a service. You don’t even care what the hardware is underneath that. You have SLAs and your developers are doing API-based programs. It doesn’t even matter. And quite frankly, the whole what instruction set is it? is mattering a lot less as we see or what vendor is, as we see A&D make a move. And yes, I know that’s X86, but ARM, ARM being everywhere. ARM being at HPE, ARM being at Amazon, being at Azure, being at Google Cloud. So instruction set is even mattering less and less. And when you package this up as an as-a-service appliance, it means even less, all you care about is the API. I don’t know if IBM’s going to go for this.

The second thing I’d love for them to do is take a stand, unleash this to the reseller community, do it under the LinuxONE brand and most IBM Zs are taken through what I would call very high touch reseller network. What I’m talking about are the resellers who drive tonnage. Then you might bring up, oh, well what about profits? Listen, if you expand the TAM and expand the market and drive Z, I’m not going to say every workload you should throw at this that X86 is currently. But take SAP, take Mongo, take the multiple databases that are out there that scream on this because this is a scale up architecture, not a scale out architecture. But it was good news. Congratulations to Ross Mauri and the team.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, not a lot for me to add on that Pat. I think you did a pretty good job of covering it. I think a lighter weight appliance, broadening the market, creating and expanding the TAM, making the capabilities. The one inflection I would say is in a world where protecting the data and especially in sensitive and highly regulated industries is becoming more and more paramount with a rise of ransomware attacks, a rise of other types of risks for companies, the ability for more companies to take advantage of this platform. And as IBM is hybridizing the platform and enabling Z to integrate in hybrid environments, things like hyper protect and being able to move data safely from the mainframe and still have cloud architecture from an operating model standpoint, the company is going to widen its net, create more revenue opportunities, scale up, and of course everyone knows that you need a lot of space to take advantage of mainframe technology. This creates an opportunity to do this with a smaller footprint.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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