IBM launches Linux-only mainframe system LinuxONE

17 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

IBM Introduces Two Open-Source-Only Mainframes in Hardware Push.

The new hardware will make it easier to run technology like the MongoDB database and the open-source software Spark, International Business Machines Corp. said.

It’s 2015 and you might think of the mainframe as a vestige of an earlier computing era, but these mega machines still play a role inside large institutions running intensive workloads.You might not think that ‘Linux’ and ‘mainframe’ belong in the same sentence, but IBM has been putting various flavors of Linux on its mainframe computers for 15 years.Called the LinuxONE, the mainframe will be part of IBM’s revamped strategy to ship its mainframes out to a wider market, following positive sales figures earlier in the year. And as though to prove its ongoing utility, The Linux Foundation announced it was launching the Open Mainframe Project today, an open source endeavor devoted to helping companies using mainframe computers. Presently more than a third of IBM’s mainframe clients are running the Linux operating system, Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems, said in a release.

It may surprise you to learn Linux has been running on mainframes for 15 years, and as Linux usage has grown on mainframes, a community of users has built up. By pulling the mainframe into the open source age, IBM should be able to keep its mainframe business afloat as new companies are enticed into becoming mainframe customers.

Early members are companies that have a deep commitment to mainframe computing already, like IBM, BMC, CA Technologies and Marist College, Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT told TechCrunch. The companies involved, especially IBM, are hoping to drive more mainframe usage by lowering the cost and complexity of owning one. “The real question is how effective the group will be in attracting members whose interest may be initially limited,” King said. You may have thought that mainframes went the way of the dinosaurs, but they are still alive and well and running in large institutions throughout the world.

IBM as part of its broader strategy to promote the cloud, analytics and security is hoping to expand the potential market for mainframes by running Ubuntu Linux and supporting a range of popular open source enterprise software such as Apache Spark, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and Chef. To help coax new users, IBM will be offering free access to the LinuxOne cloud, a mainframe simulation tool it developed for creating, testing and piloting Linux mainframe applications.

It’s hard to say how this will all play out, but King says in a best-case scenario, the real benefit could be luring new Linux developers to this older-style computing platform. The metered mainframe will still sit inside the customer’s on-premises data center, but billing will be based on how much the customer uses the system, much like a cloud model, Mauri explained. In fact, John Zannos from Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu says that IBM approached his company when it began running into more customers running Ubuntu. He added that this isn’t the first time, the two companies have worked have come together, having also worked on the OpenPOWER project. “For me what is most exciting is that IBM is working through a paradigm shift and looking at Z systems and the mainframe, expanding them and deepening open source software enablement,” Zannos said. King thinks the deal should ultimately benefit both parties (as any good deal should). “It should help IBM by opening doors in customers where Canonical is particularly strong.

But Canonical is likely to benefit even more through exposure to the large enterprises that make up IBM’s traditional mainframe customer base,” King said. In its most recent quarterly earnings report last month, the company extended its sales slide to thirteen straight quarters, posting revenue decreases across all of its major business lines, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Partnering with Canonical and encouraging use of open source tools on a mainframe gives the company a new way to attract customers to a small, but lucrative market.

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