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August 29, 2012

IBM Rolls Out New Versions of Old 'Big Iron' Technology

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

The "big iron" hardware, the massive mainframe computer, has received something of a bad rap, thought of as old technology, the kind of thing that people remember from old photos of the 1950s proclaiming that computers would only be owned by the super-rich, and only they would ever have need or want of them. But the technology is still very valid, and often where the most powerful hardware comes from. To that end, IBM (News - Alert) yesterday rolled out its new line of mainframe computers, said by the company to be their fastest, most powerful, and most advanced mainframes ever.

IBM's new zEnterprise EC12 server operates at 5.5 GHz, and runs what IBM calls "the fastest chip in the world", with processing speed fully 25 percent improved over its predecessor. It's also packing a new cryptographic co-processor to improve security and privacy, and IBM dropped better than $1 billion on the development of the EC12.

The EC12 mainframe is geared to be a "big data" device, tracking changes in customer behavior and the like to allow retailers and similar clients to provide the best possible customer experience. With an EC12, businesses could track popular sellers, less than popular sellers, and more to issue customized coupons accordingly and drive more business where it's needed.

Naturally, these days, IBM doesn't do near so much in hardware business as it used to, but there is still demand for the massive mainframes that put IBM on the map when it got started. Indeed, these same devices fuel demand for at least some of IBM's software product, where it's moved most of its efforts over the last couple decades.

Big data is one of those movements that may well represent some big advantages, especially for businesses that have a lot of data to manage in the first place. It falls in the category of "know your customer", and allows businesses to better respond to those individual needs and interests that make up a typical customer base. Making the shopping experience better for customers--whether through personalized coupons or just notifications that new items that the customer had expressed some interest in have finally arrived for sale--is an experience that not only pays off for the customer, but also, often for the business as well through increased sales and a customer more willing to show good will when bad things happen.

Improving the customer experience is important for any business that likes staying open, and while not every business will find a massive mainframe like the zEnterprise EC12 useful, having the kind of processing capability to understand and respond to the customer's needs is both important and helpful.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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