Big Blue Makes Mainframe Linux Push

ARMONK, N.Y. (06/05/2000) - As expected, IBM Corp. has begun introducing software products that will let customers build and run Linux applications on mainframes.

Among the tools announced are software connectors that tie Linux applications to messaging and database applications on the S/390 mainframe. The company also announced a Tivoli software client to manage the backup and storage of data needed for mainframe-based Linux applications.

By supporting traditional enterprise-class applications such as DB2 and Lotus Domino as Linux applications on mainframes, IBM is trying to increase the operating system's standing in the large-scale business community. Linux on mainframes gives the operating system an enterprise-class look and feel, IBM says. Customers using the mainframe to run Linux applications can take advantage of the high reliability and security of the mainframe, as well as its fast I/O technology and capacity to support thousands of users.

For several months now, IBM has offered a free Linux download that will run on the S/390. It has drawn about 2,100 takers.

Linux has given mainframe aficionados the most fun they've had in a decade, says Adam Thornton, a freelance consultant and the head of Princeton University's Linux on the mainframe project. Not only is it making the mainframe a hipper platform to work on, but there are bottom-line benefits, too.

Thornton says customers can save 75 percent of hardware costs by creating Linux virtual machines - essentially logical servers on a mainframe - instead of buying individual servers. Linux staff are also cheaper to hire than their mainframe counterparts.

The Enterprise Connectors for Linux for S/390 will serve as high-speed links from Linux applications to the S/390-based IBM DB2 database, MQSeries applications messaging and the CICS transaction monitor software. IBM claims users could, for example, link front-end Linux Web server software and DB2 programs, and run them on the same machine. The connections would work at the mainframe's memory speed, IBM says.

IBM also announced a version of DB2 that will run natively on Linux on the S/390, as well as Linux/S/ 390 versions of the Tivoli management framework and the WebSphere Application Server.

A Linux Web server attached to a DB2 database running on OS/390, all within the same mainframe, could run high volumes of Internet transactions at mainframe speeds, Thornton says.

The Enterprise Connectors for Linux for S/390 and the DB2, Tivoli framework and WebSphere Linux software will be available in the fourth quarter.

The release date for the Tivoli Storage Manager Client for Linux for S/390 will be announced later this year.

Pricing for the middleware was not disclosed.


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