IBM Unveils Linux-Only Mainframe, Joins Open Mainframe Project

Open SourceSoftware

LinuxONE aims to help IBM drive mainframe adoption as firm dumps mainframe code into open source community

IBM has unveiled a mainframe that runs on the Linux operating system, in partnership with Ubuntu Linux distributors Canonical.

Called the LinuxONE, the mainframe will be part of IBM’s revamped strategy to ship its mainframes out to a wider market, following positive sales figures earlier in the year.

Monthly subscription

Part of that new strategy is offering the mainframe in a monthly subscription pricing model, as well as wheeling out a large wad of mainframe code to the open source community, and participating in the Open Mainframe Project which was launched this week by the Linux Foundation, designed to drive mainframe adoption.

IBMLinixONE mainframes will come in two penguin-themed varieties: Emperor and Rockhopper. LinuxONE Emperor runs on a remodelled IBM z13, with the Rockhopper coming in a much smaller form targeted at entry-level mainframe buyers.

“Fifteen years ago IBM surprised the industry by putting Linux on the mainframe, and today more than a third of IBM mainframe clients are running Linux,” claimed Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president, IBM Systems.

“We are deepening our commitment to the open source community by combining the best of the open world with the most advanced system in the world in order to help clients embrace new mobile and hybrid cloud workloads.”

IBM will be cracking open the mainframes to some big name open source software to drive adoption, including Apache Spark, MongoDB, MariaDB and Docker, along with dishing out 250,000 lines of mainframe code to the Linux community.

These platforms works “seamlessly” on the LinuxONE, according to IBM, and require no extra skills to be able to use.

“Linux on the mainframe has reached a critical mass such that vendors, users and academia need a neutral forum where they can work together to advance Linux tools and technologies and increase enterprise innovation,” said Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation executive director.

The Open Mainframe Project sees early joiners such as CA Technologies and BMC, which will work together on open source mainframe development issues.

“The Open Mainframe Project is a direct response to the demands of Linux users and the supporting open source ecosystem to address unique features and requirements built into mainframes for security, availability and performance,” said Zemlin.

By pulling the mainframe into the open source age, IBM should be able to keep its mainframe business afloat as new companies are enticed into becoming mainframe customers.

The monthly pricing model will see the mainframes metered in the customer’s data centre, billed by usage, just like a cloud pricing model. This way, the large upfront cost of mainframes is removed. This will surely affect IBM’s immediate fiscal results, but could boost earnings in the long run.

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