IBM this week announced hardware and software improvements for Linux running on S/390 mainframes and a new introductory pricing model.
At the same time, software companies Computer Associates (CA) and BMC Software released S/390-based management software for the platform.
IBM has publicly stated its commitment to Linux and this announcement is likely to let the operating system move even more deeply into the corporate environment. Since January, Big Blue has seen some 4000 internet downloads of Linux mainframe software - a fact which S/390 IT consultant Cliff Laking described as a "revelation".
"Customers are highly excited about the potential that Linux offers them, complementing OS/390 or VME or VSE, because it potentially brings lots of new applications to the S/390, and gives the opportunity for customers to develop and deploy ebusiness types of applications using Linux on the mainframe," he said.
Customers will now be able to develop newer web-based applications on mainframes and take advantage of the S/390's reliability, availability and security, as well as its fast I/O technology.
From September, IBM will make available its S/390 integrated facility for Linux. This will let customers add system capacity to dedicate to Linux workloads without increasing the charges from IBM S/390 software on the rest of the server. BMC and CA, as well as Candle, Compuware and Saga Software, have agreed to this pricing policy.
Laking said the traditional S/390 pricing model is "not entirely suitable for the Linux type environment" where the operating system is free. IBM hopes the new pricing programme will encourage more users to use Linux on the S/390.
On the software side, the company is adding its new S/390 virtual image facility for Linux. This will allow customers to install and run hundreds of copies of Linux on one S/390 mainframe on existing MVS installations. The only other way to install more than 15 copies of Linux is to use the MV operating system.
"As a result, we can create an indefinite number of virtual S/390 images each of which runs on a single copy of Linux, and consolidate them to run on a single machine," said Laking.
BMC, meanwhile, has released its first S/390-based Linux management product - the Patrol Agent and Knowledge Module. This lets customers manage Linux applications on the mainframe, as well as carry out performance analysis and capacity planning. Patrol monitors performance and activity to detect problems in the server.
Mark Rivington, BMC's product marketing director, said the company is trying to get ahead of the market with the launch of this product. He said this new clutch of mainframe offerings will help Linux to further penetrate the corporate environment because users will not run an operating system without systems management software.
Currently most people using Linux on the S/390 are still in the development phase, he said, adding that BMC hopes to help them develop mission-critical applications.
CA's S/390 product set includes its Unicenter TNG Agents and Framework, which will be available during the third and fourth quarters of this year. This includes its ARCserve storage management product and its eTrust security product.
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