IBM is continuing its five-year plan to make it easier for customers to use its mainframes.

It is releasing more software to make it easier to program, manage and administer its mainframes in an ongoing bid to attract more customers to purchase its big iron hardware instead of high-end servers.

The move is part of a five-year, $100 million (£51.5m) project the company began in October to simplify use of its System z mainframe. At that time, IBM released a variety of tools and services including a new mainframe management console, better software asset management capabilities and Health Checker for z/OS, a monitoring and configuration tuning tool.

The new enhancements IBM announced for its System z software yesterday cover security, systems and data management and virtualisation.

As part of the announcements, IBM unveiled a new version of its database – DB2 9 for z/OS – due out in the first half of this year along with a suite of DB2 tools.

The vendor is also enhancing its Tivoli monitoring family of availability and performance management tools including Omegamon z/OS Management Console. IBM acquired the Omegamon technology through the June 2004 purchase of Candle. IBM has translated the Omegamon software into more languages including simplified and traditional Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Also new is z/VM version 5.3, an improved release of IBM's mainframe virtualisation software with a focus on expanding the technology's scalability to host over 1,000 virtual images on a single hypervisor. The vendor has also worked on simplifying the management of Z/VM running on the Linux operating system.

On the middleware side, IBM is releasing WebSphere Developer for System z version 7.0 and WebSphere Service Registry and Repository for z/OS version 6.0. Both offerings are designed to help users as they adopt the service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach to development so they can more easily expose their mainframe data as web services.

Turning to security, IBM debuted the Consul zSecure Suite version 1.8, which enables z/OS users to create and review XML security audits on their mainframe data. The vendor acquired Consul in January to beef up the compliance and security auditing capabilities of its Tivoli systems management software and is working on integrating Consul's zSecure software with Tivoli.