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The Value of Linux

Many options add up to value and customization

7/22/2015 12:00:32 AM | This article discusses the value proposition of running Linux on the z Systems platform. In addition to the benefits from consolidating many Linux servers into VMs on z Systems servers, the value of Linux also involves the variety of software, support and applications that are available for use today.

Server Consolidation Shouldn't Be Overlooked

Running Linux on z Systems reduces server sprawl by lowering the number of servers, OSs and system administrators resulting in decreased overall complexity. Floor space and power usage requirements are also significantly lower. You can get more for your investment in z Systems servers by driving higher utilization rates on it. These are some of the classic benefits achieved through server consolidation. An enterprise may choose to run development and test on a commodity hardware platform but run system tests and production for the same application on z Systems. This is possible because Linux applications are portable. This is desirable because Linux on z Systems provides an extremely reliable and secure production environment that is second to none in the industry.

Rapid Provisioning

If you're new to the idea of running Linux on z Systems, consider that in this setup it’s possible to provision, deploy and reconfigure images rapidly. This is done with the z/VM virtualization engine making use of computer resources that are already installed and running so that provisioning of VMs happens at the computer’s speed Read about VM and Linux on z Systems.

Expanded Enterprise Computing Role

If you're new to Linux, running it opens the door to many new software possibilities that allows you to extend the z Systems in a broader enterprise context by running new collaboration, business analytics, data warehousing, application development or business application workloads. If you are unsure about Linux on z Systems take this into consideration: 40 percent of z Systems clients are already using Linux including 80 of IBM’s top 100 companies using mainframes. These statistics were reported in a recent keynote address “Enabling New Possibilities in Digital World” at the recent Enterprise Computing Community. The presenter, Mike Desens, business line executive, IBM z Systems, also indicated that more than 25 percent of total capacity of mainframe MIPS run Linux using IFL.

Platform for Cloud Services

If you are ready to deploy a private cloud, consider that z Systems is a cost-effective platform for deploying a Linux-based cloud service. You could implement a cloud service using the Enterprise Cloud System, which combines and integrates IBM software, storage and server technologies. This prebuilt system is a flexible and secure solution that can scale up to as many as 8,000 VMs in one footprint. Another approach to deploy cloud on z Systems is to add the necessary software to the system that you are already have. The IBM Cloud Management Suite for System z provisions a workload on z Systems using a self-service portal. This software expands the range of coverage for managing private clouds to the z Systems platform.

Two Supported Distributions

There are a number of Linux distributions in the marketplace. However, the two supported by IBM on z Systems are Red Hat and SUSE which virtualize Linux on z Systems with z/VM. These distributions for z Systems support enterprise application development, cloud services and other diverse workloads in an extraordinarily productive way. The Web resources for both Linux distributions provide information about partner products and certified middleware and applications. This allows you to know in advance what support you can trust regarding your planned software mix.

Broader Ecosystem

When you look at the big picture, you see an impressive structure that involves middleware, applications, services and support. Software tools like the IBM Rational family are used to develop applications. Other tools like the products from the IBM Tivoli family are used to monitor and manage Linux OS. It’s important to note IBM has more than 500 commercial products that run on Linux as their production platform.

Open-Source Software

Open-source software is a significant part of Linux. Middleware examples include Apache HTTP Server, Samba and JBoss with available databases such as PostgreSQL and MySQL; as well as languages and utilities like PHP, Python, Concurrent Versions System, GNU Compiler Collection, and Perl.

As part of the open-source community, IBM contributes to Apache projects like Apache Geronimo and offers WebSphere Application Server Community Edition as IBM’s supported distribution of Geronimo. The Community Edition is a lightweight Java EE 6 application server that provides a useful foundation for building Java applications that pre-integrates Apache Tomcat with other open-source components such as Web services, security, authentication and messaging. Support options are also available on a yearly subscription basis through IBM Passport Advantage.

IBM also offers DB2 Express-C, which is a no-charge community edition of DB2 server with core features. DB2 Express-C has features like Time Travel Query, Data Studio, pureXML, Compression and mobile database sync and support. Support options are also available for DB2 Express-C that include 24-7 IBM customer support, fix packs, upgrade protection and features including high availability, disaster recovery and enhanced security.

Business Applications

SAP is the leader in propriety ERP application software on Linux. It also has customer relation, supply chain and human resources management, system modules and others. The SAP products have support from Red Hat, SUSE and IBM’s management and support software and implementation services from trained and certified practitioners.

There are hundreds of open-source applications focused on business support. One example, Apache Open For Business Project, has ERP, customer relationship management, e-business, manufacturing resources planning, maintenance management, asset management and point-of-sale support. Many of the longstanding projects like Apache have mature yet innovative applications.

Getting Started

To use Linux on z Systems, you need to utilize IFLs. The pricing of the IFLs make them attractive to use with Linux. You can run Linux natively in a z Systems LPAR, however it’s more common to run z/VM in a LPAR and use it to host hundreds to thousands of VMs running Linux.

With Linux on z Systems you can consolidate many servers into one, saving significant IT budget dollars while simultaneously deploying new workloads made possible through Linux supported by proprietary and open-source software. With the advent of the IBM z13 mainframe now is the time to host Linux on the mainframe.

Joseph Gulla is the IT leader of Alazar Press, a publisher of children’s literature.

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