zEnterprise: New Solutions, New Roles, New Value

Service Management in Action

If your organization has a System zEnterprise mainframe, you're already familiar with its strengths: industry-leading security, scalability, and hardware utilization, among many others. These strengths lend themselves remarkably well to a wide variety of applications, which brings us to another major System z strength: flexibility.

Today, more and more organizations are turning to the zEnterprise to handle an entirely new class of workload. Historically, the mainframe's focus has been batch jobs and business transactions—"systems of record." But these days it's become clear that zEnterprise is also very well suited for new initiatives associated with attracting and interacting with customers, tracking their behavior and interests, and analyzing all the data connected with them.

The notion of zEnterprise taking on these new roles makes particularly good sense when you consider the way zEnterprise is extensively supported by the IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure portfolio. Service management concepts and best practices, to be implemented properly, require superior visibility, control, and automation—and that's exactly what Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure solutions deliver. Via critical functions like asset and resource monitoring, workload and system automation, and storage management, it's much easier to understand how business conditions are changing, make dynamic adjustments to compensate, and thus align everything the infrastructure does with everything the organization wants it to do.

zEnterprise can thus be much more than just a traditional mainframe architecture. By pairing it with the relevant solutions from IBM's Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure suite, zEnterprise can support practically any IT or IT-related workload an organization needs—including relatively new areas like cloud computing, mobile computing, and big data analytics.

Cloud on zEnterprise

Cloud computing is fundamentally about making the best possible use of critical resources through deep automation and virtualization—and toward that end, zEnterprise has exceptional potential.

"Estimates suggest that for zEnterprise, the total cost per day per virtual server is under $1. Meanwhile, the floor space required falls by as much as 90%, and energy consumption falls by as much as 80%."

For instance, did you know that zEnterprise is the most efficient platform for Linux workloads in general? While many organizations continue to render such workloads using distributed architectures based on x86, they'd find a stunning reduction in costs by migrating them to System z.

Estimates suggest that for zEnterprise, the total cost per day per virtual server is under $1. Meanwhile, the floor space required falls by as much as 90%, and energy consumption falls by as much as 80%. Consolidating workloads off many distributed servers onto a single zEnteprise can also significantly decrease software license costs. When you consider how this would apply in the case of a cloud, in which new virtual servers are continually being created and managed and demand levels can soar in a heartbeat, the numbers are compelling, to say the least.

IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure solutions can help you realize such benefits—fast. They empower organizations to optimize the way critical business workloads execute in the cloud, delivering industry-leading performance, security, high availability, and disaster recovery. They also dramatically simplify and accelerate the way services are provisioned and orchestrated.

All this value can typically be installed and up and running in less than a week, using the IBM Cloud Ready for Linux on System z offering. This offering provides cloud monitoring, service lifecycle management, cloud backup and recovery, automated provisioning and deprovisioning—all critical functions necessary to almost any private cloud deployment or business context. And over time, as the organization's needs and cloud utilization grow, it can easily upgrade to IBM SmartCloud Orchestration for an even more full-featured, enterprise-class solution.

Additional value stems from IBM OMEGAMON for z/OS, Mainframe Networks, z/VM, and Storage. The OMEGAMON family helps transform zEnterprise into an optimized private cloud by providing exhaustive insight into critical cloud resources like storage. It can even be used to monitor mobile networks—driving a faster problem determination and resolution when performance issues arise.

And for organizations seeking additional automation to drive complex workloads efficiently, the new IBM Tivoli Workload Automation 9.1 delivers. Thanks to its pay-as-you-go pricing model, organizations only pay for the resources used—reducing the total cost of application ownership considerably. It also now provisions business workloads even faster, in mere hours in most cases, and can expand or shrink workloads in real time across both distributed and System z platforms with fit for purpose capability to address specific business needs.

Of course, System z as a cloud architecture isn't entirely new to the world—many organizations have been using it in just this way for years now.

Nationwide Insurance, for instance, found that System z is a great platform within their fit for purpose approach to allow them to replace roughly 3,000 distributed servers, each of which ran at relatively low utilization, while generating relatively high energy costs. Today, Nationwide's cloud, running across System z, p and x, leverages dynamically provisioned Linux virtual servers instead targeted by workload requirements... leading to an 80% reduction in power/cooling costs as well as a huge drop in data center floor space requirements.

Mobile on zEnterprise

As organizations increasingly respond to the smart device revolution—no longer just tolerating Bring Your Own Device, but proactively leveraging smart devices for business value—they're increasingly finding that the application and data back end is as important as the Systems of Engagement front end.

To wit, it's not enough to have intuitive, easy-to-use apps running on the device; the services and data used by those apps must meet or exceed expectations to deliver the intended value. And for mobile services, those expectations can be higher than they might seem.

For instance, if team members really are going to benefit from being able to access key services and data any time, anywhere—the typical mobile pitch—those services must be continually available. Many of those services are sitting on System z today. And given the fact that there's no predicting exactly when workloads of this type will spike, high availability must be paired with exceptional performance—performance that can scale in real time, or very close to it.

Here, too, IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure solutions, running on zEnterprise, can make that happen. For instance, the monitoring capabilities provided by IBM OMEGAMON provide visibility into how end-to-end cloud services running across distributed and mainframe platforms are (or are not) fulfilling real-world demand levels for even the most dynamic and complex mobile services.

Management of these services benefit from the fact that OMEGAMON, working with DB2 and IDAA, provides superior visibility into the entire IT environment across both z/OS and key subsystems, such as CICS, IMS, and DB2. Far more information is now delivered on a single screen, putting details at the fingertips of the managers who need them most. And overall performance has also been enhanced by moving the OMEGAMON monitor to the System z's special integrated information processor (zIIP).

These enhancements yield many impressive benefits directly applicable to a mobile context. When technical issues appear, for instance, time-to-resolution is faster—up to 75% faster—because one screen now provides most or all of the insight needed. That means mobile services are much more available, and end users can depend on them to carry out job duties wherever and whenever they want.

One organization that's seen particular value of this type using System z is the University of Florida. From 2009 to 2012, the percentage of students there who owned smart phones climbed from 27% to 69%—a huge increase, and one that spurred the university to deliver services to mobile platforms.

Given the vast student and faculty body comprising more than 55,000 people, though, the implications for service uptime were challenging. The Integrated Student Information System would have to be able to deliver class-related information to any or all of them, on demand, with acceptable performance even at times of peak demand.

Their solution? An IBM zEnterprise utilizing their current CICS environment along with OMEGAMON XE for CICS Transaction Server. This platform supports more than one million transactions per day if necessary, an incredible workload—and yet organizational administrators also report nearly 100% availability for mobile services.

Big Data on zEnterprise

If cloud computing and mobile are the top two hottest trends in IT today, Big Data can't be far behind—and for good reason. Via smart data analytics, what had been a tremendous challenge—the ever-escalating data volumes experienced by most organizations—can actually become an incredible resource, more than paying for itself by revealing previously unseen trends and patterns. This kind of insight can prove tremendously beneficial going forward as the organization responds to new challenges and competitors, discovers and satisfies new customers and new markets, and makes operational decisions of all kinds.

If that sounds too good to be true, though, it's worth pointing out that Big Data requires a new approach to the resources that make it possible: in particular, storage. If you're going to be analyzing vast data volumes quickly enough for such insights to create real value, you'll often have to find new ways to manage all the storage used to hold that data—accessing it rapidly, easily, and without concern for its source or repository.

IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure solutions can help you achieve exactly that. In particular, IBM System z Storage Management Portfolio, along with the OMEGAMON family of offerings, supports customers’ need for Big Data storage and availability requirements .

Using IBM Tivoli OMEGAMON XE for Storage on z/OS, for instance, organizations can achieve extensive insight into how, when, and why storage is being utilized—and what to do in the near future as a result. Capacity alerts, for instance, notify administrators when space is running low based on unexpectedly rising data growth, empowering them to allocate more storage to starved services and avoid service performance shortfalls—or even outages. It's also possible to track the response times of different storage groups and volumes, determining whether they're adequate for current and projected targets for particularly storage-intensive tasks—like big data analytics. And all of these functions are accessible using any standard Web browser, running on any standard platform.

OMEGAMON also now includes support for zEnterprise zAware. This provides an even broader set of data pertaining to how IT is utilizing System z—essentially, turning Big Data into a new approach for analyzing the environment in which it itself is running. So in addition to sifting through the mass volumes of more traditional business data—such as social media information, sales reports, inventory, etc.—the same analytics tools can now also analyze performance of IT environments too, an almost recursive form of value that increases overall ROI considerably.

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