IBM Expands Red Hat Partnership

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.

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