IBM plans mainframe simplification

IBM has committed $100 million and five years research time to a project that it hopes will make its System z mainframe easier to use.

The project will use staff from both the hardware and software divisions within IBM and will focus on automating the creation of many applications and make operation of the computer system.

The initial focus of the project will look at four key areas. These include an improved user interface, automatic configuration checking, improved software control and building a new set of tools for developers. Early versions of some of these can already be found in the latest operating system for the System z, z/OS V1R8

"The new z/OS version coupled with more automation of management tasks and streamlined information delivery will make life easier for novices and experts alike," said Jim Stallings, general manager for IBM System z.

"From a strategic perspective, a focus in mainframe simplification increases the attractiveness of the platform to a broader swath of IT professionals, while at the same time continuing to provide clients with what is recognised as the most sophisticated business computing system on the planet."

IBM's success in the 1950s and 60s grew out of its domination of the mainframe market. Mainframe systems are hugely expensive systems and sales have dwindled in recent years as work is moved to smaller, more flexible servers.