Posts Tagged ‘RHEL’

Linux on System z Update

August 27, 2012

It has taken a decade but Linux has finally firmly established itself in the mainframe world. As recently as 2Q 2012, IBM was reporting two-thirds of its top 100 customers had deployed IFLs, the assist processor for running Linux on the mainframe. Overall, one-third of its System z customers have deployed IFLs. Regardless of whether you are running Linux on the z today or not, Linux on z along with Java saved the mainframe from becoming just another niche technology instead of the versatile core enterprise platform it is today.

SUSE Linux Enterprise is the dominant version on Linux on the mainframe.  SUSE now is owned by Attachmate, which says it will runs it as an independent business unit to ensure it continues to focus on the benefits of open source.  SUSE has about 65% of the mainframe Linux market. Ubuntu and Fedora have negligible presence among mainframe Linux.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) holds most of the remainder on the mainframe Linux market.  Red Hat also offers Fedora, another Linux distribution intended primarily for individuals. After making steady inroads into SUSE’s mainframe Linux market share, progress appears to have slowed in recent months. At its annual Red Hat Summit last June the company celebrated crossing the $1 billion annual revenue threshold, a major achievement for any organization but especially for one built around an open source product.  The Red Hat event returns to Boston in 2013, June 11-14.

The Red Hat gathering  focused on the current hot IT issues—cloud, mobility, and cloud storage—but the mainframe was noticeably  absent. There has been some shifting of responsibilities among Red Hat personnel regarding the mainframe, but DancingDinosaur has been told it remains an active initiative. DancingDinosaur believes RHEL on the mainframe can certainly play an integral role in driving RHEL adoption throughout the enterprise, especially as it spreads through IBM’s various hybrid computing and cloud initiatives. And having two active Linux on z providers is good for mainframe computing.

This coming fall marks the first SUSECon event, something SUSE intends to make into an annual event. Planned for Orlando FL, Sept. 18-21, the event already is promoting Doug Balog, general manager, IBM System z, as a keynote. Balog is responsible for IBM’s worldwide System z server business. The conference promises to address enterprise Linux in the data center, cloud technology and infrastructure, and Linux systems management; basically what you’d expect.

In the meantime, SUSE released the second Service Pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, which includes advanced exploitation of the latest IBM zEnterprise hardware, improved systems management, increased performance, and better problem analysis and resolution.  For example, new support for SSD makes it transparent to the DASD device driver, meaning no change required to use SSD

In terms of Linux functionality on the mainframe users see little differentiation between SUSE and RHEL from a product functionality standpoint. Makes sense since both are based on the Linux open source kernel. DancingDinosaur has profiled mainframe shops using each distribution. The choice often comes down to familiarity, services, and vendor attention to the customer. As hybrid computing gains traction among mainframe and Power shops and eventually PureSystems shops, however, the vendor—SUSE or Red Hat—that best addresses these new optimized multi-platform environments may gain an advantage.

For now, distinctions are minimal. A leading insurance company reports that it ended up using both distributions on its mainframe, starting first with Red Hat and then switching to SUSE and, a few years later, switching back to Red Hat.  As the project manager noted: “Either one works fine; you simply have to consider if your company already has a relationship with one of the vendors, your workload requirements, and any cost differences for code and support.” You also need to consider vendor readiness to support future initiatives like cloud, hybrid computing, mobile, and social business.

But changes are coming fast. IBM is inviting the industry to tomorrow’s virtual announcement of what it bills as the next generation zEnterprise system. Check it out.  DancingDinosaur will cover it in the next post.

Red Hat Summit Challenges IBM and zEnterprise

June 29, 2012

The Red Hat Summit in Boston this week showed off a slew of new products, some of which are sure to challenge IBM although none included hardware. As for the zEnterprise there was little beyond RHEL specifically aimed its way.

Although IBM has a long relationship with Red Hat, it is becoming clear that in some cases the two companies compete.  Despite moments of discomfort, IBM managers still are generally amenable to working closely with Red Hat. Coopetition, a mix of cooperation and competition, increasingly is the norm for all technology companies, not just IBM and Red Hat.  Both companies, for instance, have a strong interest in promoting KVM, which provides a low price hypervisor option. But as one IBM manager noted, price is only a door opener for a bigger discussion.  From that bigger discussion, IBM still holds more and stronger cards when it comes to delivering a complete customer solution.

The centerpiece of the conference was Red Hat’s announcement of four open hybrid solutions; hybrid here refers to the blend of public and private clouds. Find the announcement here. The four open hybrid cloud solutions consist of:

  • OpenShift Enterprise PaaS Solution combines Red Hat CloudForms, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. It aims to deliver the speed and agility of PaaS desired by enterprise developers while addressing the governance and operational requirements of enterprise IT in an open and hybrid cloud.
  • Red Hat Hybrid Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Solution, described by Red Hat as the industry’s first open hybrid cloud solution for enterprises, it includes the software needed to deploy and manage a hybrid cloud, including virtualization management with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization; cloud management, governed self-service and systems management with Red Hat CloudForms; and guest operating system with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  • Red Hat Cloud with Virtualization Bundle, promises to move enterprises to the cloud for the price of virtualization and consists of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat CloudForms, effectively combining virtualization and cloud management into the same project cycle.
  • Red Hat Storage, a software-only offering provides open source scale-out storage software for the management of unstructured data.  It is generally available with Red Hat Storage Server 2.0 today but the company has big ambitions for this.

All the above are software-only solutions. Red Hat is not getting into either the server or storage hardware business. Of these, the OpenShift PaaS product, which promises an easy on-ramp to open hybrid cloud computing with reduced complexity, sounds a little like IBM PureSystems and particularly the IBM PureSystems PureApplication System, which provides a fully integrated  hardware/software PaaS offering in a box.

Red Hat Storage, which is built around Red Hat’s recent Gluster acquisition, an open source software company that maintained GlusterFS, an open source, distributed file system capable of scaling to petabytes and beyond while handling thousands of clients. GlusterFS brings together storage building blocks over an Infiniband, RDMA, or TCP/IP interconnects to aggregate disk and memory resources and manage data within a single global namespace.

GlusterFS supports standard clients running standard applications over any standard IP network.  Red Hat’s GlusterFS gives users the ability to deploy scale-out, virtualized storage through a centrally managed and commoditized pool of storage while freeing them from monolithic legacy storage platforms.

The poster child for Red Hat Storage today is Pandora, which delivers music on demand over the net. Pandora put Red Hat Storage across 100 NAS nodes, producing what amounts to NAS in the cloud.  Where organizations have IBM storage, Red Hat Storage will virtualize and manage it as it does any other storage.

The most interesting discussion DancingDinosaur had revolved around Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). RHEL has experienced generally steady growth, and the RHEL team is cocky enough to target selected Microsoft workloads to drive further growth.  RHEL appears to be a dominant Linux distribution everywhere but on the z. Among z shops running Linux,  RHEL is treading water at around 33% share. SUSE is the dominant Linux distribution on z.  Given the upheaval SUSE has experienced you’d expect the zEnterprise to be a RHEL growth opportunity, especially with growing interest in multi-platform hybrid computing involving the z. Red Hat clearly needs to pay more attention to the z.

zBX and the Next IBM Hypervisor

May 31, 2011

Even before the zEnterprise/zBX was introduced, most mainframe data centers were multi-platform, multi-OS shops. IBM had z/VM and Power VM as hypervisors for System z and Power systems, but in the x86 world VMware ESX ruled, followed by Microsoft’s Hyper-V.

So, it was significant when IBM announced in early May that it and Red Hat, an open source technology leader, are working together to make products built around the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) open source technology for the enterprise. Jean Staten Healy, IBM’s Director of Worldwide Cross-IBM Linux, told IT industry analysts that the two companies together are committed to driving adoption of the open source virtualization technology through joint development projects and enablement of the KVM ecosystem. DancingDinosaur touched on aspects of this several weeks ago, here.

Differentiating the KVM approach from those taken by the current x86 virtualization leaders is open source technology. An open source approach to virtualization, Healy noted, lowers costs, enables greater interoperability, and increases options through multiple sources.

The KVM open source hypervisor allows a business to create multiple virtual versions of Linux and Windows environments on the same server. Companies can take KVM-based products and combine them with comprehensive management capabilities to create highly scalable and reliable, fully cloud-capable systems that enable the consolidation and sharing of massive numbers of virtualized applications and servers.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), for example, was designed for such large scale datacenter virtualization by combining its centralized virtualization management capabilities and advanced features with the KVM hypervisor. BottomlineIT looked at the Red Hat open source approach to virtualization a few weeks ago.

The open source approach to virtualization is starting to gain traction. To that end Red Hat, IBM, BMC, HP, Intel, and others joined to form the Open Virtualization Alliance. Its goal is to facilitate  the adoption of open virtualization technologies, especially KVM. It intends do this by promoting examples of customer successes, encourage interoperability, and accelerate the expansion of the ecosystem of third party solutions around KVM. A growing and robust ecosystem around KVM is essential if the open source hypervisor is to effectively rival VMware and Microsoft.

IBM’s interest in KVM also raises the question of which hypervisor—z/VM, PowerVM, RHEL in the form of RHEV with KVM, or something else—will become the preferred hypervisor for the zBX, especially when organizations start running Power and System x blades and mixed workloads. In an interview with the Register a few months back, Jeff Frey, an IBM Fellow and contributor the zEnterprise/zBX laid out the hypervisor challenge with the zBX:

  • zEnterprise—IBM’s own Processor Resource/System Manage (PR/SM) type 1 hypervisor and its related z/VM operating system (which can function as a type 2 hypervisor) will continue to direct resource activity on the zEnterprise 196.
  • PowerVM—a hypervisor that divides Power systems and blades into logical slices to virtualize I/O as well as to support AIX continues with IBM’s Power platforms.
  • IBM’s System x—Xeon blades will use a version of KVM that works with System z firmware.

The hypervisors on the Power and Xeon blades are treated like other system firmware on the mainframe. Not only do PR/SM, PowerVM, and RHEV get treated like firmware on the z but are linked back to the zEnterprise and the Unified Resource Manager via a built-in Gigabit Ethernet network implemented in a switch in the z.

Result: The switch hooks into the Advanced Management Module in the BladeCenter chassis, while the Unified Resource Manager uses SNMP to manage the BladeCenter and zBX hardware and has hooks into the PowerVM and KVM hypervisors to manage virtual machine partitions on the Power and Xeon blades.

For IBM the KVM technology is particularly well suited to address cloud challenges. It provides a predictable and familiar environment, auditable security compliance, and an open source licensing model that keeps costs down while requiring no additional skills. This makes it particularly cost-effective for large-scale cloud use, public or private, which is where IBM sees all this virtualization taking enterprises.

IBM Expands Red Hat Partnership

May 9, 2011

IBM further embraced open source last week at Red Hat’s user conference in Boston around virtualization and cloud initiatives. The relationship, however, has been growing for over a decade as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) becomes increasingly popular on the System z. The arrival of x and Power blades for the zBX should only increase the presence of RHEL on the System z.

Last year IBM selected Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) as a platform option for its development and test cloud service. Dev and test has emerged as a natural for cloud computing given its demands for quick setup and take down.

Although there weren’t any major specific System z announcements almost all System z shops run a mix of platforms, including System x for Linux and Windows, the Power platform for AIX and Linux, and are making forays into private, public, and hybrid clouds. So there was plenty coming out of the conference that will interest mainframe shops even if it wasn’t System z-specific.

With that in mind, here are three new Red Hat initiatives that will be of interest in mainframe shops:

First, open virtualization based on Red Hat’s open source KVM hypervisor. This enables an organization to create multiple virtual versions of Linux and Windows environments on the same server. This will help save money through the consolidation of IT resources and without the expense and limitations of proprietary technology. RHEV, an open source option, delivers datacenter virtualization by combining its centralized virtualization management system with the KVM hypervisor, which has emerged as a top hypervisor behind VMware.

According to Red Hat, RHEV delivers 45% better consolidation capacity than its competitors according to a recent Spec 1 virtualization benchmark and brings architectural support for up to 4,096 processor cores and up to 64TB of memory in the host, 32 virtual CPUs in the guest, and 1TB of RAM. This exceeds the abilities of proprietary hypervisors for Linux and Windows. Red Hat also reports RHEV Virtualization Manager can enable savings of up to 80% relative to comparable proprietary virtualization products in the first year (initial acquisition cost) and up to 66% over a course of three years. Finally support for such security capabilities as multi-tenancy combined with its scalability make it a natural for cloud computing.

Second, Red Hat introduced a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) initiative, called OpenShift, to simplify cloud development and deployment and reduce risk. It is aimed at open source developers and provides them with a flexible platform for developing cloud applications using a choice of development frameworks for Java, Python, PHP and Ruby, including Spring, Seam, Weld, CDI, Rails, Rack, Symfony, Zend Framework, Twisted, Django and Java EE. It is based on a cloud interoperability standard, Deltacloud, and promises to end PaaS lock-in, allowing developers to choose not only the languages and frameworks they use but the cloud provider upon which their application will run.

By building on the Deltacloud cloud interoperability standard, OpenShift allows developers to run their applications on any supported Red Hat Certified Public Cloud Provider, eliminating the lock-in associated with first-generation PaaS vendors. In addition it brings the JBoss middleware services to the PaaS experience, such as the MongoDB services and other RHEL services.

Third, Red Hat introduced CloudForms, a product for creating and managing IaaS in private and hybrid clouds. It allows users to create integrated clouds consisting of a variety of computing resources and still be portable across physical, virtual and cloud computing resources.  CloudForms addresses key problems encountered in first-generation cloud products: the cost and complexity of virtual server sprawl, compliance nightmares and security concerns.

What will make CloudForms of particular interest to heterogeneous mainframe shops is its ability to create hybrid clouds using existing computing resources: virtual servers from different vendors, such as Red Hat and VMware; different cloud vendors, such as IBM and Amazon; and conventional in-house or hosted physical servers, both racks and blades. This level of choice helps to eliminate lock-in and the need to undergo migration from physical to virtual servers in order to obtain the benefits of cloud.

Open source is not generally a mainframe consideration, but open source looms large in the cloud. It may be time for System z shops to add some of Red Hat’s new technologies to their System z RHEL, virtualization, and cloud strategies as they move forward.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 667 other followers

%d bloggers like this: