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VNU Net: Linux OS boosts IBM’s mainframe plans

By James Middleton, VNU
Net

IBM’s attempts to turn the mainframe into a primary
ebusiness platform have been significantly bolstered by
Linux.

An IBM executive told Network News last week that, to his
surprise, there have been 1100 downloads of its mainframe Linux OS
since the end of January.

Big Blue is working closely with a small group of users to
develop and test ebusiness applications for Linux on S/390 and is
pitching OS/390 Version 2 Release 9 as an enterprise level
ebusiness system for the S/390.

“Users are able to run multiple instances of Linux on a single
server, which is very useful for ASPs and ISPs,” said Rich Lechner,
vice president of ebusiness at IBM. He added that the Linux
platform allows the mainframe to use the ports of well known
middleware, including Apache, Samba and Bind DNS server
software.

Mark Lillycrop, director of research at analyst Xephon, said
that IBM wants to reposition the S/390 as an umbrella platform for
whatever operating systems users need. “The role of the mainframe
has changed from a core back-end machine to a secure hub for lots
of different applications,” he said.

IBM has also announced plans to port Linux to the AS/400 to
cover all of its server platforms. A spokesperson said it will
ensure “a common Linux application environment across servers, with
a set of libraries and interfaces allowing core Linux applications
to be compiled for different hardware/software platforms”.

Xephon’s Lillycrop said: “Linux and Apache are key elements of
ebusiness, so there is not much point in rewriting applications for
a different system. Instead, IBM has built a new role for the
mainframe.”