To provide innovative solutions for small businesses and local communities in the Puglia region of southern Italy, the University of Bari decided to deploy an infrastructure capable of supporting cloud computing and providing software as a service. The University chose a solution based on IBM System z Business Class running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z.
The University of Bari has a commitment to projects that support economic and industrial development in Puglia, southern Italy. It is a member of DAISY-Net, a consortium of universities and ICT companies that focuses on research, development and technology transfer throughout the region.
To encourage the development of innovative solutions for small businesses and local communities in Puglia, DAISY-Net wanted to create an ICT architecture capable of hosting cloud computing services, and began deciding on the best combination of hardware, operating system and middleware to use.
With regard to the hardware, the decision was made in favour of the IBM System z Business Class, because its reliability and flexibility were perfect for supporting multiple virtualised systems cost-effectively from a Green Computing perspective.
For the operating system, the main requirement was to enable easy creation and management of large numbers of development and production environments. This would help University students, researchers and DAISY-Net developers to create innovative solutions without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.
The University and DAISY-Net chose to deploy SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z, which was the first Linux operating system ever supported on the IBM mainframe platform, and is now a mature and popular technology.
“We considered both SUSE Linux Enterprise and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and chose the SUSE product for several reasons,” said Gennaro Del Campo, Team Leader for the cloud project, DAISY-Net. “SUSE Linux Enterprise is the de facto standard for Linux on System z, as a very large proportion of mainframe customers run it. Moreover, we were impressed with the management tools such as YaST®, which makes configuration simple; we also preferred the way that configuration files are organised, and the method of managing software packages.”
With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z, DAISY-Net can achieve much higher utilisation of computing resources than would be possible with a distributed server infrastructure. Many SUSE Linux Enterprise Server instances can run on a single IFL processor within the IBM mainframe, achieving utilisation rates of between 80 and 100%—a huge gain in efficiency compared to typical x86- based Linux infrastructures, where 85 to 95% of processor resources are wasted.
On top of the Linux operating system, DAISY-Net provides access to a range of middleware including Apache, Tomcat, MySQL and PostgreSQL, as well as development platforms such as Python, Ruby and PHP. As a result, Computer Science students at the University of Bari can easily access a virtual environment that runs the software their teacher assigns, and can log in via the web when they are not in the lab.
The cloud solution has also already enabled the University and other DAISY-Net developers to create a number of Linux-based applications specifically designed for Puglian businesses in the wine-making, fishing and logistics industries. The cost-efficiency, stability and easy deployment of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z platform make it easier to provide services for industries that traditionally have not been major adopters of IT.
The major benefit of using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z as a platform for cloud development is that students at Bari and developers from DAISY-Net can build solutions for local communities on a small scale, roll them out to a limited user-group for testing, and then quickly scale up the solution as more and more users decide to adopt the technology.
“In a traditional ICT model, the idea of creating a solution for a small group of fishermen or a local transport company would probably never get off the ground because the initial infrastructure costs would be too high,” said Professor Giuseppe Visaggio, Full Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Bari and President of Daisy-Net. “By using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z to create a cloud computing model, we can easily create large numbers of new environments and run them very efficiently using the available hardware resources. This makes the development of small-scale solutions much more viable. Moreover, as demand increases, the cloud can simply allocate more resources, so there is no problem with scalability.”
Professor Giuseppe Visaggio concludes: “The creation of this new cloud infrastructure will provide an agile, flexible platform that helps our brightest students and ICT professionals collaborate and express their innovative ideas. Ultimately it will make a difference to many businesses and communities in southern Italy.”