Evangelizing Mainframe
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Why Linux on System z?

Linux on System z has become a modern platform for enterprise development that combines the strengths of System z with the OS that has revolutionized computing since the early ’90s. While Linux has been around for a couple of decades, Linux on System z has been around longer than most people realize. The IBM patched OS hit the ground in late 1999 and the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) came shortly after in 2000. Over the past decade, Linux on System z has solidified itself as a platform for server consolidation, cost saving and performance benefit.

Since the dawn of the client-server era, customers have been deploying servers and applications on an environment that has grown immensely, causing server sprawl. With Linux on System z, the ability to consolidate infrastructure and redundant software and data—all while improving service delivery—makes it an attractive platform with a truly attractive total cost of ownership (TCO). Consolidation is more than just merging infrastructure, however, and in this post we’ll take a look at the key consolidation benefits of Linux for System z.

Most people think of consolidation as simply the merging of multiple servers, but it’s much more than that. Improving IT efficiency and reducing costs with Linux on System z deliver additional benefits, including:

• Merging multiple servers
• Reducing floor-space
• Cutting energy (power and cooling) consumption
• Trimming network usage
• Maximizing utilization
• Collocation of data and applications
• Improving security
• Simplifying operations and management
• Increasing capacity for growth
• Simplifying technology refreshes
• Improving disaster recovery, and
• Reducing acquisition and licensing costs for hardware and software

Floor Space. In the data center, floor space can come at a premium, and as servers are added for business requirements, room for new servers can vanish. Consolidation to Linux on System z allows many servers to be consolidated to one footprint.

Energy. Hand in hand with shrinking floor space comes an increase in power and cooling costs. By consolidating to Linux on System z, power consumption can be dramatically reduced.

Network. To accommodate the volume of servers required, a distributed network can easily have hundreds of cables from servers to the network backbone. With System z, these can be reduced, simplifying the network cabling and infrastructure.

Utilization. By consolidating servers that sit idle most of the time but are required for short bursts of increased processing, the System z platform can handle up to 100 percent utilization. This can prolong an upgrade and simplify application placement to mitigate risks associated with high utilization.

Collocation. With a client-server approach, data and applications end up being split across multiple servers throughout the data center. Consolidation to Linux on System z and the collocation of the same physical servers and data allows for cross-memory data transfer, reducing latency and improved throughput. This reduces operational complexity and increases performance.

Security. Linux on System z provides built-in security for Linux workloads. With logical hardware partitions having EAL5+ and z/VM having EAL4+ classifications as well as a security design to prevent malware, viruses and network threats, it’s the most secure platform available for enterprise computing.

Operations and management. With the reduction of servers, less complex administration is possible. With z/VM, availability is built in with new features in V6.2, such as single system image (SSI). Likewise, live-guest relocation workloads can be scaled across resources and moved non-disruptively for simplified operations. Additionally, Linux images and shared binaries can be created to ensure quick and efficient deployment of new servers and software.

Growth. With System z, resources (processors, memory, I/O adapters and network cards) can be added on the fly without disruption to a running environment.

Technology refresh. The System z single-footprint approach allows for “forklift” upgrades that are fast and easy by bringing up the images in new hardware. With applications spanning several servers in the client-server world, the same upgrade requires much more planning and coordination.

Disaster recovery.
For much the same reason a technology refresh is simplified, Linux on System z allows for a simplified disaster-recovery strategy for coordinated, near-continuous availability for z/OS and Linux.

Acquisition costs. With less cores and simplified licensing, Linux on System z costs for both hardware and software are reduced when compared to the client-server pricing model.

In summary, the numerous advantages of Linux on System z make the platform attractive from many angles—including performance, simplified management and a reduction in TCO. When choosing a workload for consolidation, however, it’s important to look at the application’s functional and non-functional requirements to determine the best fit. If the right workload can leverage the benefits detailed in this post, System z can become more to any organization by providing immediate value for enterprise computing—continuing to build on the strengths of the platform.

Dustin Shammo is a System z client architect with IBM Sales and Distribution.

Posted: 2/21/2013 3:32:14 PM by Dustin Shammo

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