Big Idea Friday

Linux Developers Get More Reasons to Write for the Mainframe

A whole lot of open sourcing is going on. It centers on Big Iron, and it confirms the emerging role of the mainframe as the locus of all IT activity in large organizations.  Consider a few of the things IBM is up to:

  • Big Blue just announced a slew of initiatives to stimulate expansion of the Linux developer ecosystem surrounding its mainframe platforms.
  • IBM is busy promoting its first Linux-dedicated mainframe family, dubbed LinuxONE. The family so far includes a z13-class model, named “Emperor”, and a z12-class “Rockhopper.”
  • The number of Linux distributions that run on its mainframes is growing, the latest being Canonical’s version of Ubuntu Linux. Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux is already supported on LinuxONE, though not Red Hat’s OpenStack, at least not yet. That is on the way soon, IBM says.
  • Tools from open-source provider SUSE have been selected by IBM to manage public, private, and hybrid clouds running on LinuxONE.
  • And, as we noted in a previous blog, IBM has established for its z Systems a port for Go, the name for Google’s open-source programming language.

IBM has not been shy about its strategy, which is “to provide clients with the most secure, highest performance capabilities for an era where mainframes increasingly anchor corporate analytics and hybrid clouds.”

Mainframes enable the scale of application processes running on Linux to grow enormously. For example, the larger of the two LinuxONE machines, dubbed “Emperor” and built on the z13, is said to handle up to a million Docker containers simultaneously.

IBM’s vice president of System z growth initiatives, Kathryn Guarini, has said “mainframes are not only more efficient, they provide much higher levels of overall uptime for modern applications that are rapidly becoming the foundation of many digital business initiatives.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Of course, it remains to be seen how successful IBM will be in cranking up a Linux mainframe bandwagon that developers are eager to jump on, because for them it means diverting resources from development on the tried and true x86 platform. But if demand for Syncsort’s Ironstream® product is any indication (Ironstream sends mainframe log data into the open-source environment via Splunk) there’s no doubt that interest in getting everything working under one roof is strong.

Lauren Rabin

Authored by Lauren Rabin

Director, Mainframe Marketing
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