IBM has launched a new mainframe, the System z9 mainframe. The company claimed it was the first in a new generation of machines focused on easing security and systems management.
Big Blue has also launched its Virtualization Engine 2.0 and revealed more on the plans to establish an industry community based on BladeCenter, dubbed

The z9 represents a US$1.2 billion IBM development investment involving the work of 5,000 company engineers over a three-year period, according to Erich Clementi, general manager of IBM Systems.

"The mainframe has joined the mainstream and is ready to collaborate," Clementi said.

The new z9 machine can process one billion transactions per day, more than doubling the maximum capability of IBM's previous high-end z990 mainframe. The new machine also has twice the memory of the z990, a maximum of 512 gigabytes, and is a fully configured 54-way system compared to the z990's 32-way system.

On the security front, data is being encrypted not only on the mainframe but anywhere information is stored, including tapes. The z9 will also enable customers to centrally manage encryption keys, according to Clementi.

At the centre of the z9 is a newly designed multichip module (MCM), which IBM claims is the densest, most advanced chip and packing technology around.

The new mainframe features virtualisation and workload management, which will allow customers to create thousands of virtual servers on a single system with a maximum of 60 logical hardware partitions, doubling the capability of the z990.

The z9 109 will have five models offering between one and 54 configurable processors, IBM said. The first four models, with one to 38 processors on board, are due to ship in September, with the high-capacity S54 model to appear in November.

IBM also introduced Virtualization Engine 2.0, based on open interfaces and taking a building block approach to virtualisation and web servers, according to Rod Adkins, vice president of development for IBM's systems and technology group.

The software will link up not only to IBM systems, but also to some non-IBM server and storage systems. Big Blue's software will integrate with technologies from the likes of Cisco, VMware and Network Appliance (NetApp). Included in Virtualization Engine 2.0 are IBM's Resource Dependency Service, which acts as a portal into the system, and Integrated Virtual Management, which the company claimed would make it easier to set up and configure virtual systems. The virtualisation software also includes a new version of IBM's Director suite of software management and automation tools, release 5.1.

In other storage news, IBM said it has expanded the interoperability of its storage virtualisation TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller so it can support Linux running on zSeries machines.

In yet another announcement, IBM announced plans to set up, a collaborative vendor effort to grow the products produced under BladeCenter, an IBM and Intel co-development design effort. IBM and Intel released the open specification for BladeCenter in September of last year. To date, over 260 companies have received the BladeCenter specifications, according to Susan Whitney, general manager for IBM Systems.

"We'll form an open collaboration community to help develop applications based on BladeCenter," she said. "We'll help develop interoperability testing and set up worldwide solution centers."

Companies likely to be founding members are Brocade., Cisco, Citrix, Intel, NetApp, Nortel, Novell and VMware. Big Blue has already reserved awebsite for the group.

IBM set up a similar vendor community last December,, aimed at the upping appeal of the Power microchip.