IBM has unveiled two Linux-based z Systems mainframes along with new support for open source software tools such as Apache Spark and MariaDB, as well as adding Ubuntu Linux to the mainframe and opening up its predictive analytics health monitoring code to the open source community.
IBM's new open strategy for the mainframe will see the firm offer Linux-only systems for the first time, along with a portfolio of open source tools, many of which are already the most deployed options for new and emerging applications around big data and analytics.
The firm is hoping to not only tempt existing mainframe clients with its new portfolio, but also attract new customers by combining the power and reliability of z Systems with common open source tools that many organisations will be familiar with.
IBM's two new mainframes are being brought to market under the LinuxONE brand. The LinuxONE Emperor is a high-end system based on the z13 hardware introduced earlier this year, while the LinuxONE Rockhopper is described as an entry-level system and is based on the slightly older zBC12 hardware.
As with the z13, LinuxONE Emperor is capable of running up to 8,000 Linux virtual machines simultaneously. IBM said it has now added the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) hypervisor as an option for operating virtual machines, alongside IBM's own z/VM and logical partitions through PR/SM.
While IBM's z Systems have previously had the support of Red Hat and Suse for running Linux, Canonical said it plans to deliver Ubuntu Linux for LinuxONE and z Systems from next year, bringing a third Linux distribution option.
In terms of other software, IBM said it is working with the open source community to offer a variety of tools on LinuxONE, including Apache Spark, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and Chef.
"This is all about collaborating with the community and providing those software capabilities that we believe our clients are looking for, and being able to that in a way that will inherit those mission-critical enterprise qualities of the platform. In all cases, they work seamlessly on the mainframe, with no need for special skills, so they can be used by application developers just as they would on other platforms," said Kathryn Guarini, vice president of z Systems Growth Initiatives at IBM.
All of these new capabilites will also be made available to existing z Systems customers, and Guarini said IBM aims to revist the portfolio and add new LinuxONE hardware options in future.
IBM said it is also contributing more than 250,000 lines of code from its mainframe software to the community in order to help open up the platform and drive innovation. This includes the IT predictive analytics capabilities that constantly monitor for unusual system behaviour and prevent issues from turning into failures.
In a further gesture to developers, IBM is creating a LinuxONE Developer Cloud and offering open access to the development community. This will serve as a platform for the creation and testing and piloting of emerging applications, IBM said.
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