Launched earlier this week, z/OS.e is designed specifically for e-business workloads on the new z800 mainframe, including Websphere, DB2, Java JDK and MQSeries.
Phil Payne, an analyst at Isham Research, said, "Some time ago people were not aware that software pricing was a hidden cost, but Microsoft has given users a wake-up call."
Payne believes IBM could even face a stampede from users desperate to get some of the renowned security of the existing z/OS operating system at a reduced price. "IBM may have under-estimated the demand for z/OS.e. Awareness of security has never been greater in this industry," he said.
Payne predicted that companies in the financial sector, such as banks, would be likely to be the early adopters of z/OS.e.
IBM is currently pursuing a strategy of attempting to change the traditional mainframe computing landscape to embrace smaller user firms. The company recently unveiled the z800, a new lower-priced, entry-class mainframe, which offers Parallel Sysplex clustering technology.
Parallel Sysplex allows companies to reduce downtime and improve performance by linking multiple mainframes so they can work together as a single system. It supports data sharing with guaranteed integrity, extensive resource sharing and sophisticated workload balancing.
IBM said the z800 offers a low-cost, flexible environment for developing, testing and running applications in a production environment.
Rich Lechner, vice-president of sales and marketing at IBM, said, "With the introduction of the z800, the mainframe moves beyond the traditional datacentre to provide smaller customers superior total cost of ownership, rapid return on investment and time-tested mainframe technology." Big iron is not just for big companies anymore, he added.
In addition to the eight z800 models launched last week, IBM unveiled a first-of-its kind Linux-only mainframe last month.