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Enterprise Linux Today: Venezuelan Bank Marks Major Financial Deployment of Linux for S/390

May 03, 2001, 13:27 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Scott Courtney)

"Banco Mercantil, a consumer and commercial bank headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela, has announced that Linux is being deployed in production systems on its IBM System/390 mainframe. This marks the first publicly-acknowledged use of Linux for S/390 in a production environment at a large financial institution. The news is being trumpeted by IBM as validation of the stability and capability of Linux on IBM mainframes, a platform which critics have said is not ready for the enterprise."

"This victory for IBM's S/390 architecture, and for the Linux operating system, comes at the expense of Microsoft's Windows NT. Banco Mercantil has eliminated thirty Windows NT servers by replacing them with SuSE Linux installed on a single IBM System/390 G6 mainframe. The current deployment is only for commoditized services such as DNS, firewall, and file sharing, but a spokesman for Banco Mercantil says the next phase of the project will see Linux on S/390 hosting line-of-business financial applications. Part of the company's Internet-based customer access system is already using a Linux-based web server on the System/390 mainframe."

"The new Linux installation will complement, not replace, existing OS/390 mainframe based systems running under IBM's CICS transaction management environment. The existing mainframe was augmented with an Integration Facility for Linux (IFL) processor node so that Linux could run in its own dedicated Logical Partition (LPAR). The IFL is a full System/390 processor, but has special firmware to disable its ability to run IBM's traditional mainframe operating systems. By using the IFL processor, Banco Mercantil avoids paying larger software licensing fees for the other software on the machine. Such software licenses are typically based on the total processor capacity of the entire mainframe, regardless of how that total capacity is allocated, because the customer can change such processor allocations at will without telling IBM. There is no software charge for the IFL processor, because it can run only the free Linux operating system."

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