IBM's new S/390 line targets network computing

IBM Corp. last week announced two new System/390 server lines an enhanced operating system and a host of other products designed to link firms' mainframes more closely with networked computing environments.

The company unveiled the S/390 Parallel Enterprise Server - Generation 3 (G3) a CMOS-based product that offers nearly double the power of its predecessor. IBM also took the wraps off its S/390 Multiprise 2000 line which also uses CMOS processors but is geared toward medium-size organizations. In addition IBM announced the latest version of its mainframe operating system OS/390 Release 2 which incorporates IBM's traditional MVS operating system and now has improved support for Unix. In the future Microsoft Corp. Windows NT-based applications will also be able to run under OS/390 IBM said. NT and Unix are dueling for server dominance in the federal market.

The mainframe and its relationship to the Internet and other forms of network computing was a theme underscoring all of IBM's announcements. "Network computing is the unifying focal point of many of our activities " said Hermann Lamberti vice president of worldwide marketing for IBM's S/390 Division.IBM's announcements last week included Internet Connection Secure Server for OS/390 which allows secure Internet access for data and transactions OS/390 Internet BonusPak II which includes secure World Wide Web browsers and Internet "gateways" that make DB2 and IMS databases accessible via the Internet. IBM also said it will make beta code available later this year that will allow customers to build Java-based applications for S/390 machines. And next year the company plans to announce an S/390 version of the Lotus Notes groupware package.

Steve LeCompte vice president of IDC Government Market Services said the networking orientation "could be significant in terms of mainframes being servers on the Internet. It's a good bet on IBM's part. It's the ultimate recognition that the network is the computer."

"As people begin to move from surfing on the Net to really working it begins to play to the strength of a platform like the S/390 " added Tom Rosamilia director of the software product line for IBM's S/390. He cited the reliability and security of IBM's products.

IBM's S/390 announcements also tie into IBM's unveiling two weeks ago of its network computer a low-cost Internet access device. "The S/390 will play as a server to the network computer " said Charles Lickel vice president of S/390 software development with IBM. He said the network computer will be able to access Unix applications Java-based applications and eventually Lotus Notes - in addition to the more typical transactional subsystems and databases - on S/390 systems.

The S/390 G3's CMOS processor is rated at 45 million instructions per second. The server line consists of 13 models ranging from uniprocessor to 10-processor configurations. Up to 32 of the S/390s G3s can be clustered via IBM's Parallel Sysplex technology. The new servers designed for IBM's largest customers will be available in October. The S/390 Multiprise meanwhile also spans 13 models ranging in performance from 3.5 to 145 MIPS.

Wendy Culberson large-systems brand manager at IBM Government Systems said she expects the new S/390s to hit the General Services Administration's Schedule A within a week.

IBM's OS/390 Release 2 is scheduled for availability in September. The product with its enhanced Unix capabilities will be submitted to The Open Group to be certified as a fully Unix-compliant operating system IBM officials said. The Open Group is the Unix industry's standards organization. IBM's Lamberti said about 200 Unix applications developers would be creating software for the S/390.

Meanwhile IBM has allied with Bristol Technology to bring Windows NT-based applications to the S/390 platform. Bristol will develop a tool that will translate Windows NT applications so they can run on OS/390's Unix interface Rosamilia said.

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