I.B.M. introduced a new line of mainframe computers called the zEnterprise EC12. The new model can securely handle vast volumes of transactions and have added capabilities for computing chores, like analyzing torrents of data from the Web and corporate databases, cloud computing, data center consolidation, and flash-memory storage. This new I.B.M. mainframe represents $1 billion in research and development spending over three years.
The mainframe has prevailed because it has been overhauled time and again, having its insides retooled using low-cost microprocessors as the computing engine and being tweaked to master new programming languages, like Java, and new software operating systems, like Linux. Rodney C. Adkins, I.B.M.’s senior vice president for systems and technology, said, “The mainframe is the most flexible technology platform in computing.” More than 1,000 schools in 67 countries currently participate in I.B.M.’s academic initiative for mainframe education
Mainframes are selling briskly in the emerging economies of Asia and Africa. Performance, security, and reliability are often the main reasons for selecting a mainframe. I.B.M.’s core mainframe business is supported by thousands of engineers and scientists. The mainframes are constantly communicating over the Internet with a remote I.B.M. support center, so I.B.M. is looking after them seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
The mainframe is a vital asset to I.B.M. because of all the business that flows from it. The sale of mainframe computers accounts for nearly 4% of I.B.M.’s revenue. However, when all the mainframe-related software, services, and storage are included, mainframe technology is responsible for about 25% of revenue and more than 40% of profits. A basic mainframe generally costs more than $1 million. A high-performance model with peripheral equipment will cost a company $10 million or more.
I.B.M. has globalized its operations and work force assertively over the last 15 years. Mainframe parts are produced in I.B.M. facilities in the United States, in Germany, and elsewhere. I.B.M. opened a $30 million mainframe plant in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in 2010. The final assembly work for the mainframe is done at this facility. The company has pulled out of manufacturing businesses, including personal computers and disk drives.