Launching a new server platform of any kind in this economic environment is never an attractive option - unless it costs a lot less money than the alternatives. With mainframes, just being a lot cheaper than last year's model is progress, and with the System z10 Business Class entry mainframes announced this week, IBM has cut …
Why the Special deal?
As stated in the article, this is not a free trial – the customer has to commit to the purchase now (so this is just a simple deferred payment). If the technology doesn’t deliver the expected benefits, then the customer is stuck with the additional hardware (IFL, zAAP or zIIP). Can the customer use the special low-priced memory for anything else?
The saving is only on speciality engines and associated memory. What happens about the rest of the cost – physical frame, channels, real engines, other memory and maintenance costs?
And why would any customer want to migrate onto Linux on a proprietary mainframe technology?
Even with the special deals, the mainframe is still only really usable a Linux consolidation platform where you want to consolidate hundreds of low utilisation servers or workloads with dissimilar peaks. If you have a workload with high utilisations at the same time then mainframe is a very expensive solution.
The Linux on Mainframe advocates are very careful to make sure that engine speeds are not compared between mainframe and other architectures. The reason is simple – the mainframe is excellent for “data” processing – it is not so good for highly-computational workloads. Compare a 2098 mainframe with an Intel or AMD “PC” processor and see what has the best “MIPS”?
The key comment from Red Hat and Novell is about “uniqueness of the mainframe and the relatively small customer base”. How many real, live, Linux on Mainframe customers are there?
It must be about 10 years since the first “Linux on Mainframe” offering. How many customers are really running large amounts of IBM mainframe capacity for Linux? I am not talking about single IFLs – but large n-way systems. Whenever sales start dropping IBM starts banging the old “Linux on Mainframe drum”.
So I see this as just another joint marketing effort from IBM, Novell and Red Hat. I would recommend that any IBM customer wanting to really go Linux on Mainframe could negotiate a better deal themselves (IBM used to give IFLs away for nothing to increase the “notional” install base).
Alternatively customers looking for Linux on mainframe for consolidation should also look at other options that do not necessarily require a Linux conversion?