Deepening its investment in Linux, IBM announced new Linux-only mainframe systems, a significant contribution of mainframe code to the open-source community and support for a new Open Mainframe Project.
Today, at LinuxCon in Seattle, IBM introduced two Linux mainframe servers—called LinuxONE—designed for the new application economy and hybrid cloud era.
LinuxONE is a new portfolio of hardware, software and services solutions, providing two distinct Linux systems for large enterprises and midsize businesses. LinuxONE Emperor is based on the IBM z13 mainframe. The system is capable of analyzing transactions in real time and can be used to help prevent fraud as it is occurring. It can scale up to 8,000 virtual machines or thousands of containers. LinuxONE Rockhopper, an entry into the portfolio, is designed for clients and emerging markets seeking the speed, security and availability of the mainframe but in a smaller package.
“Fifteen years ago, IBM surprised the industry by putting Linux on the mainframe, and today more than a third of IBM mainframe clients are running Linux,” Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems, said in a statement. “We are deepening our commitment to the open community by combining the best of the open world with most advanced system in the world in order to help clients embrace new mobile and hybrid cloud workloads. Building on the success of Linux on the mainframe, we continue to push the limits beyond the capabilities of commodity servers that are not designed for security and performance at extreme scale.”
Charles King, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT, said: “Linux saved IBM’s life in the 1990s. Though the company is in far different and better shape now than it was then, recent developments, including the new LinuxONE solutions, suggest IBM hoping to capture similarly dynamic benefits from its work with today’s open-source community.”
IBM will enable open-source and industry tools and software, including Apache Spark, Docker, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and Chef on IBM z Systems to provide enterprises with choice and flexibility for hybrid cloud deployments. Canonical and IBM also announced plans to create an Ubuntu distribution for LinuxONE and z Systems, making the capabilities of the mainframe accessible to Ubuntu’s strong community of developers.
“One of the most significant things in this announcement is that Canonical is supporting z Systems with their Ubuntu Linux, which is the most popular Linux distribution among developers today,” Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM z Systems, told eWEEK. “With Ubuntu available on z, we can tap into the 20 million-plus developers that are out there today. In addition to that, there are a lot of tools that are going to be available now, such as tools for analytics like Apache Spark. Also things like Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, Postgres and Chef. The main open-source tools that developers use to write applications or to manage applications are now going to be available on z.”
In short, IBM is going all-in on Linux on the mainframe, Mauri said. Today one-third of IBM’s clients worldwide are running Linux on their mainframes, and 27 percent of all mainframe capacity installed worldwide is Linux, he added.
The complexity and demand of modern systems have grown to a point, exacerbated by the explosion of mobile and social and the desire to use real-time analytics and the cloud, where enterprises are requiring more sophisticated systems with even greater security, Mauri said.
“To entice Linux buyers to z Systems, IBM is now repositioning the mainframe as a traditional run-the-business enterprise server—as well as an ‘open-server’ environment,” said Joe Clabby, co-founder of Clabby Analytics. “The company is focusing on the technological advantages of z Systems, demonstrating a new commitment to the Linux development community, and simplifying pricing in order to overcome the instantiated ‘x86-is-cheaper’ buyer objections. IBM is doing this under the auspices of a new z System brand known as IBM LinuxONE, a highly integrated portfolio of z Systems hardware, software and services that is designed to make Linux on z irresistibly compelling.”
IBM Doubles Down on Linux With New Mainframe
Mauri noted that IBM is contributing the single largest amount of mainframe code to the open-source community. The code, designed to fuel digital transformation, includes technology from IBM’s mainframe to help enterprises identify issues and help prevent failures before they happen, help improve performance across platforms and enable better integration with the broader network and cloud. A key part of the mainframe code contributions are IT predictive analytics that constantly monitor for unusual system behavior and help prevent issues from turning into failures. The code can be used by developers to build similar sense and respond resiliency capabilities on other systems.
Moreover, the contributions will help fuel the new Open Mainframe Project, formed by the Linux Foundation. In collaboration with the Linux Foundation, IBM will support the Open Mainframe Project, a collaboration of nearly a dozen organizations across the academic, government and corporate sectors to advance the development and adoption of Linux on the mainframe.
“Linux on the mainframe has reached a critical mass such that vendors, users and academia need a neutral forum where they can work together to advance Linux tools and technologies and increase enterprise innovation,” Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said in a statement. “The Open Mainframe Project is a direct response to the demands of Linux users and the supporting open-source ecosystem to address unique features and requirements built into mainframes for security, availability and performance.”
Founding members of the Open Mainframe Project include ADP, BMC, CA Technologies, Compuware, IBM, L3C, Marist College, RSM Partners, SUSE, The Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at University of Washington, University of Bedfordshire and Vicom Infinity.
“Linux is the fastest-growing operating system in the industry with significant drivers expanding it into mission-critical applications,” said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. “The causes for this trend are speed, agility, a unified development environment and cost. Plus, the quality of Linux has advanced over the years significantly. Mobile is also driving an increased focus on this platform, which is closely tied to the mobile revolution.”
IBM is committing to driving the future of Linux on the mainframe by supporting the Open Mainframe Project through substantial funding and company resources, including IBM Linux Technology Centers, open-source community contributions, Academic Initiative and training programs, and open access to mainframe community clouds, Enderle said.
With the LinuxONE announcement, IBM is also providing free access to the mainframe to foster innovations by developers in the open-source community. IBM is creating the LinuxONE Developer Cloud to provide open access to the development community. The cloud acts as a virtual R&D engine for the creation, testing and piloting of emerging applications, including testing linkages to engagement systems, mobile applications and hybrid cloud applications.
“This opens these mainframe systems, not only to students, but also to open-source developers who love to write code,” Mauri said. “Many of these open-source developers are working on their own and they don’t have a lot of resources.” Mauri added that the new Linux initiative also will bring new blood into the mainframe space.
Marist College and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies will host clouds that provide developers access to a virtual IBM LinuxONE at no cost. As part of the program, IBM will create a special cloud for independent software providers (ISVs) hosted at IBM sites in Dallas, Beijing, and Boeblingen, Germany, that provide application vendors access and a free trial to LinuxONE resources to port, test and benchmark new applications for the LinuxONE and z Systems platform.
IBM helped pioneer virtualization on the mainframe and is now offering more choices for virtualization by enabling the new LinuxONE systems to be provisioned as a virtual machine through the open-standards-based KVM hypervisor, just like any Linux server. SUSE, a leading distributor of Linux, will provide initial support for KVM for the mainframe. Canonical also plans to support KVM for the mainframe.