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Yesterday, at LinuxCon, IBM announced “a significant expansion of the mainframe’s strategy of embracing open source-based technologies and open-source communities”
under the umbrella of the LinuxOne portfolio. However, it seems that there is a lot of confusion about the announcement, and I have been asked frequently during the past
two days, what exactly the IBM announcement is all about, as many different things are mentioned.

Well – in my “limited Marketing view”, the LinuxOne solution portfolio is simply said an effort to enlarge the entire ecosystem for Linux on the mainframe – and in short the IBM announcement consists of six core take-away messages:

1.) Availability of two new z Systems hardware servers:

  • LinuxOne Emperor: in my understanding, this is in principle a z13 enterprise-class or big machine in a Linux only configuration
  • LinuxOne Rockhopper: again, in my understanding, this is based on the zEnterprise BC12 machine, the smaller Business Class server, and made available also as a Linux only configuration machine
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but I would say these machines are the consequential and strategic evolution of the previous “Enterprise Linux Server” offerings, newly packed and named differently. In any case, it is a nice acknowledgment that IBM names the machines after the most famous penguin species. (Dance Happy Feet 🙂 !)

2.) Support of much more Linux/Open Source software on z Systems

  • This includes but is not limited to Apache Spark, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Chef and Docker.
  • I am sure there is more to come in the near future.

3.) Availability of KVM for IBM z Linux (read this also in the context of point 2)

  • Some background here. You might know that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z already supported KVM on the mainframe as a technical preview since our version 11 SP3 – means we shipped our own KVM version.
  • At a certain point in time, (fortunately) IBM decided to take a closer look at KVM, which resulted in the decision to create their own KVM for IBM z Linux. And for the benefit of our mutual customers, SUSE decided to support in future only IBMs KVM version (with SLES12 GA in certain non-production environments and with SP1 in production) to make sure customers get the best integrated combined solution and will not be confused by two different offerings.
  • We are very proud that we are the first and currently the ONLY operating system to support IBM´s KVM for the mainframe.

4) Ubuntu, the Linux operating system from Canonical, will become the third “supported” Linux distribution on IBM z Systems (again, please read this also in the context of point 2)

  • SUSE and Red Hat so far are offering the only two enterprise-class and supported Linux operating systems for IBM mainframes. Now, IBM and Canonical collaborate on an Ubuntu version for the mainframe.
  • But SUSE and Red Hat still remain the only two enterprise-class Linux operating systems on the mainframe – because “enterprise-class” means a whole lot more than simply providing technology. Customers need to trust the company they are buying from, and this requires a sophisticated infrastructure with processes for regular maintenance, a 24×7 available worldwide support organization, synchronized Level 3 support processes, ISV and IHV certifications, and much more.
  • Canonical states that, in future, Ubuntu will also support KVM on the mainframe. Welcome to the club! SUSE pioneered KVM on the mainframe, and we already do support KVM for IBM z Systems 🙂

5) IBM joined the newly founded “Open Mainframe Project” – hosted by the Linux Foundation – as a Platinum Founding Member.

  • The same did SUSE – we are also a Platinum Founding Member of the Open Mainframe Project because we are committed to the incomparable z Systems platform for more than 15 years.
  • The Open Mainframe Project has been founded “to bring together under a formal structure, parties with a mutual interest in advancing development and adoption of Linux on the mainframe platform, in order to benefit the ecosystem surrounding mainframe Systems” – more details about the project to be found here.

6) IBM is creating the LinuxONE Developer Cloud to provide open access to the development community.

  • Currently, IBM is already providing an ISV Cloud which is hosted via PartnerWorld at IBM´s  Innovation Center in Dallas, Texas. This cloud offer to ISV´s will be extended with cloud installations at Boeblingen/Germany and Beijing/China. Application vendors can ask for access and a free trial to LinuxONE resources to port, test and benchmark their new (commercial) applications.
  • The future LinuxONE Developer Cloud will provide open and free access to the development community. The main purpose here is to push emerging technology development to and create brand new software for the mainframe – a very smart and welcome initiative.
  • The provision of the developer cloud will happen together with Marist College (which is continuously pushing Linux on the mainframe, like they did already more than 15 years ago, when they collaborated with IBM and SUSE to port the existing Linux code to the mainframe), and Syracuse University.

Once again – these six points are “my personal quintessence” from the announcement – but the most important message for me is that Linux on the Mainframe is growing, and gets support from all industries from all over the world.


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