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IBM partners with Linux in new mainframe push

Wed 19 Aug 2015

IBM logo superimposed over images of mainframe servers and a data center

Earlier this year, IBM launched the new z13 mainframe, its first in nearly three years. Bolstered by strong sales, the company is putting more of a focus on mainframes, partnering with Linux in a new strategy.

This involves not only new hardware and software, but also open-sourcing IBM’s mainframe code to improve network and cloud integration. In addition, IBM is backing the Linux Foundation’s new Open Mainframe Project, as are other tech companies such as CA Technologies and Suse. After 15 years of successful Linux mainframe use, the project’s stated aim is to further this by bringing “together industry experts to drive innovation and development of Linux on the mainframe.”

IBM’s vice president for open systems development, Jim Wasko, said “This project is an evolution on our journey with the mainframe”. He explained, “Linux works on the mainframe the way it works on any other computing device,” adding, “Linux is incredible in the scale of what it is capable of and how you can utilize it.”

An important element in the advance of particular technology is availability of personnel with the relevant skillsets. As such, the project’s backers include academic institutions such as the University of Berkshire and the University of Washington, so that there will be people who can program and manage mainframes.

IBM would like its mainframes to run more hybrid clouds and corporate analytics, and to that end recently unveiled two new Linux mainframe servers, the Rockhopper and the Emperor. While the Rockhopper provides availability, security, and speed, it’s smaller than the Emperor, which they say can handle “hundreds of thousands of containers”, or “up to 8,000 virtual machines”, as ComputerWorld reports.

IBM is going to allow popular software to run on its mainframes, such as Node.js, Apache Spark, PosgreSQL, MongoDB, MariaDB, Docker, and Chef.


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