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Commentary: Freeway hits the road; hold the checkered flag

With the z900 now out of the garage and on the road, IBM is motoring toward two major market segments in its race against Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.

By John Phelps, Gartner Analyst

With the z900 now out of the garage and on the road, IBM is motoring toward two major market segments in its race against Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.

The first targeted segment is the high-end,

See news story:
IBM to ship enhanced mainframe, storage systems
large and fast-growing S/390 enterprise. The second, of course, is the mission-critical e-business companies where Sun and Hewlett-Packard are setting the pace, and where IBM hopes to gain improved traction.

IBM's Freeway offering is a major architecture upgrade to provide increased power, 64-bit addressing, enhanced resource management, and the foundation for improved software charging. The most obvious new function is the 64-bit addressing support, which makes it ideal for huge, single-system-image environments (more than 1,000 MIPS) by reducing paging overheads. The Intelligent Resource Director feature adds needed muscle to the mainframe's workload management capability.

Just in the nick of time, too, since Unix systems have begun to develop workload management capability. With Unix vendors striving to have their high-end Unix systems compete with the mainframe's functions, IBM's delivery of Freeway helps move the z900 back into the three- to five-year lead that the S/390 had enjoyed in functionality.

The z-series architecture continues to enhance the capability of the mainframe to provide the best functional base for e-business--scalability, availability and dynamic resource management. S/390 users, who do much of their own applications development and tend to be more concerned with function than price, ought to be pleased that Freeway has been ramped up.

Now if the independent software vendors would only show the same glee in developing for the z900 (and in pricing their products more realistically), and if IBM would continue to prune its own software prices, the mainframe would stand a better chance of getting up to cruising speed in the e-business marketplace

(For related commentary on multiprocessor servers vs. mainframes, see registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright ? 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.