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For the tenth straight year, IBM and Lenovo servers again achieved top rankings in ITIC’s 2017 – 2018 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey.

 IBM’s Z Systems Enterprise server is in a class of its own. The IBM mainframe continues to exhibit peerless reliability besting all competitors. The Z recorded less than 10 seconds of unplanned per server downtime each month. Additionally less than one-half of one percent of all IBM Z customers reported unplanned outages that totaled greater than four (4) hours of system downtime in a single year.

Among mainstream servers, IBM Power Systems 7 and 8 and the Lenovo x86 X6 mission critical hardware consistently deliver the highest levels of reliability/uptime among 14 server hardware and 11 different mainstream server hardware virtualization platforms. Each platform averaged just 2.1 minutes of unplanned per annum/per server downtime (See Exhibit 1). 

That makes the IBM Power Systems and Lenovo x 86 servers approximately 17 to 18 times more stable and available, than the least reliable distributions – the rival Oracle and HPE ProLiant servers.

 Additionally, the latest ITIC survey results indicate just one percent of IBM Power Systems and Lenovo System x servers experienced over four (4) hours of unplanned annual downtime. This is the best showing among the 14 different server platforms surveyed.

ITIC’s 10th annual independent ITIC 2017 – 2018 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey polled 800 organizations worldwide from August through December 2017.  In order to obtain the most accurate and unbiased results, ITIC accepted no vendor sponsorship.

 Survey Highlights                                                                


Among the other key survey highlights:

  • IBM Z Systems Enterprise mainframe class servers topped all platforms for reliability, accessibility, performance, and security among.  The Z servers deliver true mainframe fault tolerance experiencing just 0.91 – less than one minute of unplanned per server, per annum annual downtime. That equates to a barely perceptible 7.6 seconds per month or “blink and you miss it,” 1.8 seconds of weekly unplanned downtime.
  •  The z Systems family of servers also the lowest incidence – 0% — of > 4 hours of per server/per annum downtime of any hardware platform.
  • To reiterate, IBM Power Systems and Lenovo System x servers once again consistently demonstrated the least amount of unplanned downtime 2.1 minutes per server/per year among all mainstream server offerings. Both the IBM and Lenovo offerings shaved several seconds off their previous results of 2.5 and 2.8 minutes per server/per year, respectively in ITIC’s 2017 Mid-year Reliability poll in June. These latest results underscore the stability and consistency of the IBM and Lenovo distributions running Linux as well as top notch service and support. Additionally, both vendors are aggressively updating their platforms to support Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and stronger embedded security and management capabilities.
  • And 88% of IBM Power Systems and 87% of Lenovo System x users running RHEL, SUSE or Ubuntu Linux experience fewer than one unplanned outage per server/per year.
  • Only one percent of IBM and Lenovo servers recorded over four (4) hours of unplanned per server/per annum downtime; followed by six percent of HPE servers; eight percent of Dell servers and 10% of Oracle servers (See Exhibit 2).
  • IBM and Lenovo hardware and the Linux operating system distributions were either first or second in every reliability category, including virtualization and security.
  • Fujitsu PRIMEQUEST and newcomer Huawei’s Kun Lun server platforms both scored high reliability rankings. It’s noteworthy that both the Fujitsu and Huawei server distributions are mainly deployed in Asia/Pacific and Europe. To date, neither has seen significant deployment in the North American region.
  • Cisco UCS and HPE Integrity Superdome servers are getting more competitive with each subsequent ITIC Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey. In this latest 2017 Mid-Year Update poll, only two percent of Fujitsu PRIMEQUEST and three percent of Cisco, HPE Integrity and Huawei Kun Lun servers recorded in excess of four (4) hours of unplanned downtime.
  • Lenovo x86 X6 mission critical servers scored the highest reliability ratings among all x86 platforms.
  • Commodity Aging Hardware: Some 69% of survey respondents said aged hardware (3 ½+ years old) had a negative impact on server uptime and reliability vs. 31% that said it has not impacted reliability/uptime.
  • Reliability continues to decline for the sixth year in a row on the HPE ProLiant and Oracle’s SPARC & x86 hardware and Solaris OS – each of which experienced 37 minutes and 33 minutes of unplanned outages per server/per annum. Reliability on the Oracle platforms declined slightly mainly due to aging. Many Oracle hardware customers continue to eschew or prolong upgrades and instead migrate to rival platforms.


In summary the ITIC 2017 – 2018 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability Survey findings indicate that the reliability and uptime of the core infrastructure: server hardware, server operating systems and server virtualization are all more crucial than ever to the health of the overall on-premises datacenter and cloud-based environments.

Server hardware, operating systems, mission critical applications and networks must be available 24 x 7. Reliability and availability are crucial to uninterrupted business operations and productivity. IBM and Lenovo once again continued to deliver the highest levels of reliability. IBM’s z Systems Enterprise mainframe is in a class by itself and is the clear winner in terms of unparalleled fault tolerant levels of 99.999% or greater reliability.

Among the “work horse” mainstream systems, the IBM Power Systems, Lenovo System x are the most reliable and offer the highest levels of technical service, support and customer satisfaction.

Cisco UCS reliability is likewise very strong and consistent. The most recent ITIC survey also showed impressive gains by veteran vendor Fujitsu’s PRIMEQUEST E Series and newcomer Huawei’s Kun Lun mission critical server. To date, though these firms’ server offerings do not have a substantial presence in the North American region, though they are strong in Asia Pacific. Their strong showing in reliability makes them worth watching.

Organizations must have confidence in the reliability and stability of their server hardware and server OS platforms. The underlying advances in semiconductor, software and management technology bolsters the reliability of the servers. However, these technology gains can be undone by human error, increasingly complexity and the ever-present threats posed by Security, BYOD and IoT.  


California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and nearby Hartnell College in Salinas, CA teamed up to initiate one of the country’s most innovative Computer Science Cohort programs. Since 2013 the two institutions, have promoted this program as a way to attract minorities, women and students who are the first in their families to attend college to Computer Science and STEM subjects. The Cohort program nurtures these students by having them take their CS classes as a group. It also helps them adjust more quickly to college life by providing them with group study and life skills classes to help them stick with CS as a major and graduate. So far, so good. A 75% majority of students enrolled in the CSUMB/Hartnell CS Cohort program graduate. This is well above the national average of about 30%. The program is the brainchild of Sathya Narayana a CS professor at CSUMB, who constructed it with Joe Welch and Sonia Arteaga, his counterparts at Hartnell, a two-year community college in Salinas, CA. Read my article on this important initiative at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)’s Website here:

In the 21st Century Digital Age in which servers and applications are increasingly interconnected via public, hybrid and on-premises cloud networks; virtualization and Internet of Things (IoT), organizations require near flawless security, system availability and reliability.

Unplanned downtime irrespective of the reason is unacceptable and costly due to its negative impact on productivity. When network servers, OSs and applications are unavailable, business ceases. This has a domino effect on corporate enterprises, customers, business partners and suppliers. Four nines – 99.99% uptime is now the minimum reliability required by 79% of organizations.

IBM Z Next Features

The IBM Z, the 14th generation of IBM’s industry-leading mainframe technology, advances the already solid and robust security and reliability features inherent in the platform over the last decade. It also amps up the processing power to new levels. The IBM z14 has the ability to process 12 Billion encrypted transactions daily. It accomplishes this via the industry’s fastest microprocessor and a new scalable system structure that delivers a 35 percent capacity increase for traditional workloads and a 50 percent capacity increase for Linux workloads compared to the previous generation IBM z13.The system can support:

  • More than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day on a single system.
  • The world’s largest MongoDB instance with2.5x faster NodeJS performance than x86-based platforms.
  • Two million Docker Containers.
  • 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases.

Other new capabilities in the IBM Z Next include:

  • • Three times the memory of the z13 for faster response times, greater throughput and accelerated analytics performance. With 32TB of memory, IBM Z offers one of the largest memory footprints in the industry.
  • Three times faster I/O and accelerated transaction processing compared to the z13 to drive growth in data, transaction throughput and lower response time.
  • Pervasive Encryption for rock solid security.
  • The ability to run Java workloads 50 percent faster than x86 alternatives
  • Improved Storage Area Network response time with zHyperLink, delivering 10x latency reduction compared to the z13. This cuts application response time in half – enabling businesses to do much more work such as real-time analytics or interact with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud applications within the same transaction, without changing a single line of application code.
  • IBM also previewed new z/OS software that provides foundational capabilities for private cloud service delivery. This allows organizations to transform from an IT cost center to a value-generating service provider. When available, these capabilities will include the support of workflow extensions for IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS and real-time SMF analytics infrastructure support.

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