IBM Rolls Out Mainframe Offerings for Linux, Chordiant

IBM officials are aggressively positioning their System z mainframes as strong alternatives to large-scale x86 data centers running Linux. Two new Linux-based mainframes are designed to run thousands of Linux virtual servers on a single physical IBM mainframe. In addition, IBM is rolling out two offerings aimed at making it easier for businesses to consolidate Linux and Chordiant workloads onto the mainframes.

IBM is continuing to push its mainframes as alternatives to large clusters of virtualized x86 servers.

The company is rolling out two new Linux mainframes aimed at large-scale consolidation projects, as well as new software and services packages to help enterprises more easily manage their customer data.

The offerings, announced Dec. 8, come at a time when IBM has seen its System z business hit hard by the recession and other factors, with revenue for the mainframes declining by about 26 percent in the third quarter from the same period last year.

However, IBM officials say Linux workloads on the System z mainframes are growing. According to the company, there was a 100 percent increase in Linux capacity shipped by IBM on the mainframes from the third quarter of 2007 to the third quarter this year.

Linux is a key part of the new offerings. IBM is rolling out two new Linux mainframes designed to give businesses an option for large-scale consolidation projects on Linux. The systems come in Enterprise and Business Class configurations, and offer such components as z/VM, which is IBM's virtualization platform for the mainframes.

Using z/VM enables businesses to run hundreds to thousands of Linux virtual servers on a single physical system, while offering high levels of security and availability.

That kind of availability and scalability doesn't exist in virtualized x86 environments, according to IBM officials.

"IBM is seeing a new market trend for large-scale server consolidation and bringing more capabilities to the mainframe," Tom Rosamilia, general manager of System z at IBM, said in a statement. "Only the Enterprise Linux Server can provide the environment necessary to handle countless workloads' security and with high availability on such a massive scale."

The systems also give users a way to pay for incremental capacity as it becomes needed, with that capacity priced lower as the configuration size grows.

In addition, IBM is expanding a software initiative it kicked off in June to tailor the mainframes to specific workloads, such as data warehousing, electronic payments, disaster recovery, security, SAP applications and cloud computing.

Now IBM is offering systems aimed at Linux workloads and Chordiant customer relationship management software. The Chordiant Solution Edition offers users a platform that features z/OS, DB2 and WebSphere and that is aimed at better managing customer data.

The Enterprise Linux Edition continues IBM's push to bring more Linux workloads onto the mainframe. Of the 6,300 applications that are unique to the System z portfolio, 3,000 are Linux apps, according to IBM.