Posts Tagged ‘Ubuntu’

IBM LinuxONE Can Uberize x86-Based IT

November 13, 2015

Uberization—industry disruption caused by an unlikely competitor—emerged as a dominant concern of C-suite executives in a recently announced IBM-Institute of Business Value study. According to the study, the percentage of C-suite leaders who expect to contend with competition from outside their industry increased from 43% in 2013 to 54% today.

IBM Csuite Study_Tiles_10_30_2 competition data

These competitors, future Ubers, aren’t just resulting from new permutations of old industries; they also are coming from digital invaders with totally different business models. Consider IBM LinuxONE, a powerful open source Linux z13 mainframe supported by two open communities, the Open Mainframe Project and the Linux Foundation. For the typical mass market Linux shop, usually an x86-based data center, LinuxONE can deliver a standard Linux distribution with both KVM and Ubuntu as part of a new pricing model that offers a pay-per-use option in the form of a fixed monthly payment with costs scaling up or down based on usage. It also offers per-core pricing with software licenses for designated cores.

Talk about disruptive; plus it brings scalability, reliability, high performance, and rock-solid security of the latest mainframe. LinuxONE can handle 8000 virtual servers in a single system, tens of thousands of containers. Try doing that with an x86 machine or even a dozen.

Customers of traditional taxi companies or guests at conventional hotels have had to rethink their transportation or accommodation options in the face of Uberization and the arrival of other disruptive alternatives like Airbnb. So too, x86 platform shops will have to rethink their technology platform options. On either a per-workload basis or a total cost of ownership (TCO) basis, the mainframe has been cost competitive for years. Now with the Uberization of the Linux platform by LinuxONE and IBM’s latest pricing options for it, the time to rethink an x86 platform strategy clearly has arrived. Many long-held misconceptions about the mainframe will have to be dropped or, at least, updated.

The biggest risk to businesses used to come from a new rival with a better or cheaper offering, making it relatively simple to alter strategies. Today, entrenched players are being threatened by new entrants with completely different business models, as well as smaller, more agile players unencumbered by legacy infrastructure. Except for the part of being smaller, IBM’s LinuxONE definitely meets the criteria as a threatening disruptive entrant in the Linux platform space.

IBM even is bring new business models to the effort too, including hybrid cloud and a services-driven approach as well as its new pricing. How about renting a LinuxONE mainframe short term? You can with one of IBM’s new pricing options: just rent a LinuxONE machine monthly with no upfront payment.  At the end of the 36-month rental (can return the hardware after 1 year) you choose to return, buy, or replace. Try that with enterprise-class x86 machines.

The introduction of support for both KVM and Ubuntu on the z platform opens even more possibilities. With the LinuxONE announcement Ubuntu has been elevated to a fully z-supported Linux distribution. Together IBM and Canonical are bringing a distribution of Linux incorporating Ubuntu’s scale-out and cloud expertise on the IBM z Systems platform, further expanding the reach of both. Ubuntu combined with KVM should make LinuxONE very attractive for OpenStack-based hybrid cloud computing that may involve thousands of VMs and containers. And don’t forget a broader range of tools, including an expanded set of open-source and industry tools and software, including Apache Spark, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Chef and Coker.

Deon Newman, VP of Marketing for IBM z Systems, can recite the LinuxONE scalability stats off the top of his head: The entry-level, single-frame LinuxONE server, named Rockhopper, starts at 80 virtual Linux machines, and hundreds and hundreds of containers while the high-end double-frame server, Emperor, features six IFLs that support up to 350 virtual machines and can scale all the way to 8,000 virtual machines. On the Emperor server, you can literally have hundreds of thousands of containers on a single platform. Newman deliberately emphasizes that LinuxONE machines are servers.  x86 server users take note. LinuxONE definitely is not your father’s mainframe.

In the latest C-suite study all C-suite executives—regardless of role—identified for the first time technology as the most important external force impacting their enterprise. These executives believe cloud computing, mobile solutions, the Internet of Things, and cognitive computing are the technologies most likely to revolutionize or Uberize their business.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at and here.






IBM Power Systems LC Aims to Expand the Power Systems Market

October 8, 2015

IBM is rapidly trying to capitalize on its investment in POWER technology and the OpenPOWER Foundation to expand the POWER franchise. The company is offering up the  Power Systems LC Server family; LC for Linux Community. This addresses how processing will be used in the immediate future; specifically in Hybrid Cloud, Hyperscale Data Centers, and Open Solutions. You could probably throw in IoT and big data/real-time analytics too although those weren’t specifically mentioned in any of the LC announcement materials or briefings.

Linux Community 1 lc server

Courtesy of IBM:  the new Power S822LC (click to enlarge)

The LC Server family  comes with a new IBM go-to-market strategy, as IBM put it: buy servers the way you want to buy them; online with simple pricing and a one-click purchase (coming soon). Your choice of standard configurations or have your configuration customized to meet your unique needs through IBM’s global ecosystem of partners and providers. Same with a selection of service and support options from an array of IBM technology partners.

There appear to be three basic configurations at this point:

  1. Power Systems S812LC: designed for entry and small Hadoop workloads
  2. Power Systems S822LC for Commercial Computing: ideal for data in the cloud and flexible capacity for MSPs
  3. Power Systems S822LC for High Performance Computing: for cluster deployments across a broad range of industries

According to the latest S812LC spec sheet, the IBM 8348 Power System S812LC server with POWER8 processors is optimized for data and Linux. It is designed to deliver superior performance and throughput for high-value Linux workloads such as industry applications, open source, big data, and LAMP.  It incorporates OpenPOWER Foundation innovations for organizations that want the advantages of running their big data, Java, open source, and industry applications on a platform designed and optimized for data and Linux. Modular in design, the Power S812LC is simple to order and can scale from single racks to hundreds.

The Power S812LC server supports one processor socket, offering 8-core 3. 32 GHz or 10-core 2.92 GHz POWER8 configurations in a 19-inch rack-mount, 2U drawer configuration. All the cores are activated. The server provides 32 DIMM memory slots. Memory features supported are 4 GB (#EM5A), 8 GB (#EM5E), 16 GB (#EM5C), and 32 GB (#EM5D), allowing for a maximum system memory of 1024 GB.

The LC Server family will leverage a variety of innovations that have been brought out by various members of the OpenPOWER Foundation over the last few months.  These include innovations from Wistron, redislabs, Tyan, Nvidia, Mellanox, Ubuntu, and Nallatech in the areas of big data, GPU acceleration, HPC, and cloud. And, of course, IBM’s CAPI.

No actual pricing was provided. In response to a question from DancingDinosaur about whether the arrival of products from the OpenPOWER Foundation was driving down Power Systems prices, the response was a curt: “We haven’t seen the drag down,” said an IBM manager. Oh well, so much for an imminent price war over Power Systems.

However, IBM reported today that  based on its own internal testing, a new Power Systems LC server can complete an average of select Apache Spark workloads – including analyzing Twitter feeds, streaming web page views and other data-intensive analytics – for less than half the cost of an Intel E5-2699 V3 processor-based server, providing clients with 2.3x better performance per dollar spent. Additionally, the efficient design of a Power Systems LC server allows for 94% more Spark social media workloads in the same rack space as a comparable Intel-based server.

These new systems are exactly what is needed to make the POWER platform viable over the long term, and it can’t be just an IBM show. With OpenPOWER Foundation members delivering innovations there is no telling what can be done in terms of computing with POWER9 and POWER10 when they come.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at and here.

IBM LinuxONE and Open Mainframe Project Expand the z System

August 20, 2015

Meet the new IBM z System; called LinuxONE Emperor (named after the Emperor Penguin.) It is a z13 running only Linux. Check out the full announcement here.

Primary LinuxOne emperor

Courtesy of IBM, LinuxONE Emperor, the newest z System

DancingDinosaur is excited by several aspects of this announcement:  IBM is establishing, in conjunction with the Linux Foundation, an Open Mainframe Project; the company is breaking with its traditional mainframe pricing model; it also is putting KVM and Ubuntu on the machine; and it is offering a smorgasbord of app-dev options, including some of the sexiest in the industry today. DancingDinosaur never believed it would refer to a mainframe as sexy (must be time to retire).

Along with LinuxONE Emperor IBM announced an entry dedicated Linux machine, the LinuxONE Rockhopper. (BTW; notice the new playfulness in IBM’s product naming.) Rockhopper appears to be very similar to what IBM used to call a Business Class z, although IBM has stepped away from that designation. The closest you may get to a z13 business class machine may be LinuxONE Rockhopper. Rockhopper, according to IBM, is designed for clients and emerging markets seeking the speed, security and availability of the mainframe but in a smaller package.

The biggest long term potential impact from the announcement may come out of the Open Mainframe Project. Like many of IBM’s community project initiatives, IBM is starting by seeding the open community with z code, in effect creating the beginning of an open z System machine.  IBM describes this as the largest single contribution of mainframe code from IBM to the open source community. A key part of the mainframe code contributions will be the z’s IT predictive analytics that constantly monitor for unusual system behavior and help prevent issues from turning into failures. In effect, IBM is handing over zAware to the open source community. It had already announced intentions to port zAware to Linux on z early this year so it might as well make it fully open. The code, notes IBM, can be used by developers to build similar sense-and-respond resiliency capabilities for other systems.

The Open Mainframe Project, being formed with the Linux Foundation, will involve a collaboration of nearly a dozen organizations across academia, government, and corporate sectors to advance development and adoption of Linux on the mainframe. It appears that most of the big mainframe ISVs have already signed on. DancingDinosaur, however, expressed concern that this approach brings the possibility of branching the underlying functionality between z and Linux versions. IBM insists that won’t happen since the innovations would be implemented at the software level, safely insulated from the hardware. And furthermore, should there emerge an innovation that makes sense for the z System, maybe some innovation around the zAware capabilities, the company is prepared to bring it back to the core z.

The newly announced pricing should also present an interesting opportunity for shops running Linux on z.  As IBM notes: new financing models for the LinuxONE portfolio provide flexibility in pricing and resources that allow enterprises to pay for what they use and scale up quickly when their business grows. Specifically, for IBM hardware and software, the company is offering a pay-per-use option in the form of a fixed monthly payment with costs scaling up or down based on usage. It also offers per-core pricing with software licenses for designated cores. In that case you can order what you need and decrease licenses or cancel on 30 days notice. Or, you can rent a LinuxONE machine monthly with no upfront payment.  At the end of the 36-month rental (can return the hardware after 1 year) you choose to return, buy, or replace. Having spent hours attending mainframe pricing sessions at numerous IBM conferences this seems refreshingly straightforward. IBM has not yet provided any prices to analysts so whether this actually is a bargain remains to be seen. But at least you have pricing option flexibility you never had before.

The introduction of support for both KVM and Ubuntu on the z platform opens intriguing possibilities.  Full disclosure: DancingDinosaur was an early Fedora adopter because he could get it to run on a memory-challenged antiquated laptop. With the LinuxONE announcement Ubuntu has been elevated to a fully z-supported Linux distribution. Together IBM and Canonical are bringing a distribution of Linux incorporating Ubuntu’s scale-out and cloud expertise on the IBM z Systems platform, further expanding the reach of both. Ubuntu combined with KVM should make either LinuxONE machine very attractive for OpenStack-based hybrid cloud computing that may involve thousands of VMs. Depending on how IBM ultimately prices things, this could turn into an unexpected bargain for Linux on z data centers that want to save money by consolidating x86 Linux servers, thereby reducing the data center footprint and cutting energy costs.  LinuxONE Emperor can handle 8000 virtual servers in a single system, tens of thousands of containers.

Finally, LinuxONE can run the sexiest app-dev tools using any of the hottest open technologies, specifically:

  • Distributions: Red Hat, SuSE and Ubuntu
  • Hypervisors: PR/SM, z/VM, and KVM
  • Languages: Python, Perl, Ruby, Rails, Erlang, Java, Node.js
  • Management: WAVE, IBM Cloud Manager, Urban Code Openstack, Docker, Chef, Puppet, VMware vRealize Automation
  • Database: Oracle, DB2LUW, MariaDB, MongoDB, PostgreSQL
  • Analytics: Hadoop, Big Insights, DB2BLU and Spark

And run the results however you want: single platform, multi-platform, on-prem and off-prem, or multiple mixed cloud environments with a common toolset. Could a combination of LinuxONE alongside a conventional z13 be the mainframe data center you really want going forward?

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at and here.

Variety of System Vendors at IBM Edge2015

May 7, 2015

An interesting set of vendor sponsors and exhibitors are lined up for IBM Edge2015 in Las Vegas next week. For the past weeks DancingDinosaur has focused on a small selection of program sessions.  Now let’s take a look at some of the vendors that will be there.

DancingDinosaur loves the vendors because they’re usually the ones underwriting the free entertainment, food, and drinks as well as giving out the nifty stuff. (My daughters used to love going off to school with what they considered cool multi-colored pens, Day-Glo bouncing balls, folding Frisbees, and more, which I picked up free at different vendors’ booths.)

ibm enterprise cloud - cloud breakthrough year infographic_12-17-14b (1)

IBM enterprise cloud platform (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with Rocket Software. DancingDinosaur thinks of them mainly as a mainframe software provider with products for data management, performance optimization, catalog and system management, disaster recovery, storage management, and security. They also offer a bunch of interesting free utilities. At the end of April Rocket announced Rocket Discover, a self-service, intuitive data preparation and discovery solution to lets business managers and executives easily access, manipulate, prepare, and visualize data.

Both Brocade and Cisco will be there. In April, for instance, Brocade announced innovations for its campus LAN switch family. The switch is intended to help organization easily scale to meet increasing campus bandwidth demands. For instance it will deliver the industry’s highest 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port density for any switch in its class to accommodate what it refers to as the onslaught of user video and wireless traffic that is taxing campus networks.

In early May Cisco announced that Eletrobras, a Brazilian electric utility, would use Cisco’s technology for a smart metering initiative.  The project is expected to enable operational efficiency by improving service quality and control of non-technical losses, which, according to the company, reach 22% in the North and 10% in the Northeast of Brazil compared to required energy.

Of course Red Hat and SUSE, currently the leading Linux providers for the mainframe, will be there. DancingDinosaur has gotten some of his favorite baseball hats from each of these companies at previous IBM Edge conferences.

Red Hat introduced a new business resource planner as part of the latest releases of Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite and Red Hat JBoss BRMS. The planner, based on the open source OptaPlanner JBoss community project, is designed to help enterprises address complex scheduling and resource planning challenges. It also promises to increase operational adaptability in the face of rapidly changing and unpredictable business environments.

In late April SUSE announced the upcoming availability of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 12. New features, such as full operating system rollback, live kernel patching, and installation automation, should help simplify deployment and can increase uptime of mission-critical SAP solution-based workloads on Linux. SUSE customers should save time and resources as they experience improved performance and reliability.

Since the topic is Linux, let’s not forget Canonical’s Ubuntu, usually regarded as a desktop Linux distribution, is moving onto server platforms. At present Ubuntu is supported on POWER8 but not z. Ubuntu is included in numerous program sessions at Edge2015. For example, Ubuntu on Power – Using PowerKVM, presented by James Nash. The session covers various aspects to consider when moving to Ubuntu on the Power platform running in a PowerKVM environment.

In the exhibition area, where most people congregate for free food and drink after the program sessions there are over 30 exhibitors, including a handful of IBM units. For example, H&W Computer Systems  provides a handful of mainframe tools that enable you to run batch jobs during the business day without impacting CICS, automatically convert JES2 output to PDF or other formats, or use ISPF-like features to manage mainframe datasets. This is hardcore mainframe stuff.

An interesting exhibitor is ownCloud, an enterprise file sync and share system that is hosted in your data center, on your servers, using your storage. ownCloud provides Universal File Access through a single front-end to all of your disparate systems. Users can access company files on any device, anytime, from anywhere while IT can manage, control and audit file sharing activity to ensure security and compliance measures are met. (DancingDinosaur could actually use something like this—make note to check out this exhibitor.)

Recommend you spend a couple of late afternoons grazing through the exhibitor space, enjoying the food and drink, catching some demos, and collecting a new wardrobe of t-shirts and baseball caps.  And don’t forget to pick up some of the other funky stuff for your kids.

Of course, plan to save time for the free evening entertainment. In addition to Penn & Teller, a pair of magicians, and rocker Grace Potter, here. Also there will be a weird but terrific group, 2Cellos as well.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst and writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing on and here. If you are attending IBM Edge2015—now sold out—please look for me hanging out wherever people gather around available power outlets to recharge mobile devices.

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.


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