VNU Net: Users prompt Big Blue to back Linux

By Peter Branton, VNU

User demand has led IBM to increase its commitment to the Linux
freeware operating system by offering full support on the S/390
mainframe platform.

IBM said it was responding to customers’ needs, as more than
2000 copies of Linux for S/390 have been downloaded since it was
offered in January.

Specialist resellers will distribute Linux for S/390 in the UK,
in partnership with IBM Global Services, which will offer users
services and support for the platform. Pricing will cover
distribution and support costs. Free downloads will still be
available, IBM said.

IBM is hoping to capture a larger share of the market for web
servers, with the S/390 offering an ideal platform for server
consolidation, said Clive Druett, ebusiness consultant for
enterprise systems for IBM. “We want all those users who have
started running free servers such as Apache to come back to the
mainframe,” he said.

“IBM users have voted with their feet for Linux on S/390,”
said Phil Payne, analyst for Isham Research. “Over 2000 downloads
is far more than IBM expected.
The main benefit for IBM,
though, will probably be to get more people with S/390 skills in
the marketplace.”

“The intention is to grow the S/390 skills base,” said Druett.
“We want more people familiar with the platform.” As part of this,
IBM is offering to provide some colleges in the US with mainframe
systems, he added.

Linux for S/390 will be more secure than other Linux
implementations, said Druett, but it will run directly on the S/390
hardware platform, rather than the OS/390 operating system itself,
which he acknowledged would make it less robust. “We can’t offer
the same levels of availability we do with OS/390,” he said.

Third party software suppliers, including BMC and Software AG,
have already made applications available for Linux on S/390.

Mark Lilleycrop, director of research for Xephon, is sceptical.
“This seems to be a bit of a ‘me-too’ product,” he said. “IBM had
to be in the Linux space, and it may be looking at areas like
server consolidation, but I really can’t see a huge market for
Linux in this space,” he said.

[ First published in Computing ]

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