IBM Unveils WebSphere V5 for zSeries OS

IBM Monday took the wraps off its new application server for its zSeries operating system. The new software comes equipped with the latest support for J2EE and Web services standards, as well as a variable pricing scheme previously unavailable for the zSeries.

The first upgrade of its kind since WebSphere V4 was released some two years ago, WebSphere V5 for the z/OS supports SOAP, WSDL and UDDI, and J2EE 1.3. It is J2EE 1.4-ready since it supports more than half of the technologies that will be part of future releases of J2EE, according to IBM Director of WebSphere Internet Infrastructure Software of Bob Sutor.

Sutor told the development environment is also simpler as WebSphere for z/OS’s Eclipse tools can be used to develop once and deploy to any WebSphere server environment. In the past, extra steps were required.

Once a fixed, per-processor pricing candidate, WebSphere for z/OS, V5 may now be purchased through a flexible pricing option, much the same way IBM’s zSeries machines are. The software is sold as “value units,” which are calculated based on the millions of service units capacity of zSeries servers. WebSphere has a tool available to help customers determine how many Value Units they need, based on their hardware.

The flexible pricing, designated for the z/OS for V4 and V5 platforms, is in keeping with IBM’s pervasive strategy to let customers pay as they go for processing power.

Sutor offered the following pricing example as a lesson in “the more you use it, the cheaper it gets” philosophy: a customer can buy 10 Value Units starting at $2,300 per unit, or a customer can purchase 100 Value Units and pay 80 percent less per Unit, based on the same zSeries model. By comparison, the WebSphere for z/OS, V4 was priced at a fixed $35,000 per processor and customers were required to purchase licenses for all processors whether they were being used or not.

Redmonk Senior Analyst Stephen O’Grady said the variegated pricing is certainly a reflection of IBM’s e-business on-demand push, and makes sense for heavy users.

“But it’s not always easy to explain and digest; old line mainframe customers can certainly figure it out, but newer, less mainframe-savvy executives are likely to be a bit confused, so that would be a concern to me,” O’Grady said. “Despite these concerns, however, the pricing to me is a necessity. As we think about Big Iron underpinning the next generation of on-demand style applications and usage patterns, it’s critical that the pricing reflect this new style of usage – hence variegated pricing.”

Of course, a new software upgrade from IBM wouldn’t be complete without the firm’s self-diagnostic, self-healing stamp of approval. Autonomic features for WebSphere V5 for the z/OS include unique clustering, workload management and security technologies built into the z/OS operating system and enhanced by the zSeries platform. With these features, service continues regardless of applications, system software or hardware failures.

The new software is a kind of appetizer for the delivery of its next zSeries mainframe, code-named T-Rex. WebSphere Application Server for z/OS will be ready for the public May 2.