It's nearly a year before the next generation of mainframes is expected from IBM, and that means the marketing and sales people are going to have to get clever about packaging and pricing to peddle more MIPS. That is what the new Linux-only, mainframe-based Enterprise Linux Server is mostly about. IBM has been selling Linux on …
After all, in a short time everything will be running on THE MAINFRAME. The Google mainframe, Amazon EC mainframe, IBM mainframe or Microsoft mainframe. Which for some reason somebody somewhere has called cloud.
I guess Thomas J. Watson gets the last laugh here all right.
Same Old Story
Linux only zSeries mainframes are nothing new - the first ones were introduced back in 2002 with the z800 and IFL-only configurations. This is just the same old story as IBM tries to punt their 40-year old computing concept to another generation.
The mainframe (and especially IBM zSeries) is really dead now - only really considered by companies where money is no object (like financial institutions before the 2008 crash).
IBM have to try to make the mainframe a cost-effective solution versus alternate technologies in the Linux space, whilst still charging exorbitant premium pricing to customers who continue to run z/OS with exactly the same hardware.
Companies looking at Linux on mainframe want to make sure they validate all the IBM claims and ensure they understand all the cost implications (esp. maintenance and feature costs and upgrade costs).
Don't get it...
I still don't get why you'd run Linux (or unix or Windows) on mainframe class hardware. The OS just isn't going to match the reliabillity of the hardware, you'd probably get the best results from clustering, which would be less expensive.
I'm wondering if I've missed something.
Re: Don't get it...
I find that in terms of OS stability the main issue with Linux for the last decade or so has been in the drivers (which make up about half of the kernel, loosely speaking). If you were running on known, high quality hardware I would have thought you could snip out the risky bits and easily be looking at uptimes measured in decades.
The better Novell offering for IBM ELS
The price stated in the article are indeed available from Novell. But especially for the IBM Enterprise Linux Server offerings Novell has put an even more agressiv offering in place. Novell has launched the SUSE Linux Enterprise Consolidation Suite, which is a special promotion bundle, perfectly complementing IBMs ELS offerings.
Re: Don't Get It
I never understood (Linux on Mainframe) either from when it was first announced. I always had the feeling that this was developed as a solution looking for a problem rather than the other way around.
The only possible situation I thought could be if you have a super high-availability environment requiring extreme mainframe class reliability / availability and could take advantage of z/VM to allow multiple copies to run on a single box.
Otherwise there are now many logical partitioning / visualization options on alternative (low cost) architectures with fail-over capabilities available at much lower cost and that do not lock you into the (very expensive) proprietary architecture that has seen minimal price performance improvements since the PCMs went away.
The only companies that seem to want to use "Linux on Mainframe" are those that already have a large investment in "IBM Mainframe" (esp. the banks) and they want to make use of the skills they already have.
Of course the (hardware and software) vendors think it is a wonderful solution - if you can find punters willing to pay the high costs, and they have not really looked at the alternatives.
Software emulation is fast enough?
Tom Lehman, founder of TurboHercules (a Mainframe emulator that runs on x86) writes
"...we can run a reasonably sized load (800MIPS with our standard package). If the machine in question is larger than that, we can scale to 1600MIPS with our quad Nehalem based package and we have been promised an 8 way Nehalem EX based machine early next year that should take us to the 3200MIPS mark. Anything bigger than that is replicated by a collection of systems."
So if you have a need of something like 3000 MIPS, then you should use a x86 server and emulate a Mainframe in software.
How much does a cheap Mainframe cost? 1 million USD? What is the performance? 100 MIPS?
How much will a PC with Nehalem EX cost? A couple of thousand USD? What is the performance? 3.200 MIPS
You make your choice.