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Issue Date: August 2007

Linux revitalising the mainframe

1 August 2007
Willie Maritz, CA senior consultant

Is the z/Linux operating system injecting new life into the mainframe?
Running under IBM's zVirtual Machine (zVM) gives companies the ideal option to consolidate multiple servers to a single machine in a more cost effective way. Doing so not only offers an opportunity to reduce the costs of hardware and licensing, but also improves manageability. That is according to Willie Maritz, senior consultant at CA Africa.
"With z/VM, IBM has provided the necessary technology to run multiple Linux images on the mainframe under one processor. This might curb the tendency for even SME companies to move away from the mainframe, which began to garner a reputation for being a high cost solution," he says.
And while VM's on the mainframe goes back years, Maritz says the advantages offered by the ability to consolidate servers are today receiving more and more interest from business. "We are working with companies who already test this concept for the introduction of mixed workloads with Linux on the mainframe. Initial skepticism is giving way to market adoption."
IBM introduced the integrated facility for Linux (IFL) processor which is dedicated to run z/Lunix and also support z/VM at a very acceptable price and it will not affect the MSU usage on the normal processors. This continues to increase the interest and viability of this option.
Maritz says the benefits of mainframe environments which have been enjoyed by business for years are now extended to a wider range of applications than before. "Linux running under zVM delivers mainframe security, storage manageability, performance monitoring, workload scheduling and other typical advantages offered by the zOS.
"It is possible for the business to conduct management of these mixed environments using products on z/VM that integrate products already installed in z/OS," he explains.
In organisations where hundreds of applications could be installed on many physical instances of standalone servers, consolidation on to a mainframe delivers a clear cost-of-ownership benefit. This is matched with possible reductions in personnel required to support and manage the systems, which is of particular benefit in an environment where skills are scarce.
The availability of Linux on zOS also provides sound justification for those companies which have not upgraded to the more recent versions, since it provides the potential to consolidate workloads and thereby increase the value that the mainframe is delivering to the business.

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