Insurance Firm Approves $600m Services Agreement With IBM As New Server Targets Africa

Canadian insurer Manufacturers Life Insurance (Manulife) has awarded a seven-year services agreement to IBM, valued at CAD$630m (about $600m), to support its ongoing business growth, as well as continued evolution of its information technology operations. Under this agreement, IBM will advance Manulife infrastructure services for mainframe, midrange server and storage, desktop services, business continuity, disaster recovery and security.


IBM said the Canadian insurer will also consider the application of cloud computing and high-performance computing environments to accelerate and enhance the deployment of business applications.


Manulife Financial executive vice president, global services & chief information officer Joe Cooper said IBM’s expertise in the finance and insurance sectors also assists Manulife in the execution of its information services strategy by providing industry skills as required to support the businesses and customers.


IBM Canada vice president of global technology services Leslie Keating said the 10-year relationship with Manulife provides a strong foundation for us to share global expertise in cloud computing, infrastructure reliability and security. The two companies have been actively collaborated since 2002.


This is coming at a time IBM has just announced a new server (a powerful version of the IBM zEnterprise System that’s said to be the most scalable mainframe ever) to extend the mainframe’s innovation and unique qualities to more organizations, especially companies and governments in emerging markets in Asia, Africa and elsewhere.


The new IBM zEnterprise 114 mainframe server follows the introduction of the zEnterprise System for the world’s largest banks, insurance companies and governments in July 2010. The new server, which allows mid-sized organizations to enjoy the benefits of a mainframe as the foundation for their data centers, costs 25% less and offers significantly more performance than its predecessor, the System z10 BC server.


It is projected that clients can consolidate workloads from 40 x-86 processors running Oracle software on to a new z114 with just three processors running Linux, and over a three year period, total costs for hardware, software and support on the new z114 as compared to consolidated servers can be up to 80% less with similar dramatic savings on floor space and energy.


At a starting price of under $75,000 — IBM’s lowest ever price for a mainframe server — the zEnterprise 114 is an especially attractive option for emerging markets experiencing rapid growth in new services for banking, retail, mobile devices, government services and other areas. These organizations are faced with ever-increasing torrents of data and want smarter computing systems that help them operate efficiently, better understand customer behavior and needs, optimize decisions in real time and reduce risk.


IBM also introduced new features that allow the zEnterprise System to integrate and manage workloads on additional platforms. New today is support for select System x blades within the zEnterprise System. These select System x blades can run Linux x86 applications unchanged, and in the future will be able to run Windows applications. With these capabilities, the zEnterprise System including the new z114 can help simplify data centers with its ability to manage workloads across mainframe, POWER7 and System x servers as a single system. Using the zEnterprise Blade Center Extension (zBX), customers can also extend mainframe qualities, such as governance and manageability, to workloads running across multiple platforms.


IBM System z servers are also making inroads in emerging markets in Africa. Governments and businesses in Cameroon, Senegal and Namibia have all recently purchased new IBM mainframe servers.

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