IBM is expanding its embrace of big data analytics to include support on its open source mainframe for the Anaconda stack used by Python programmers.

The company announced Thursday (Feb. 9) that it is collaborating with Anaconda developer Continuum Analytics and Rocket Software to host the open source analytics platform on IBM z/OS mainframes. Last year, IBM and several partners collaborated to bring Apache Spark to it z System mainframe, allowing the open-source analytics framework to run natively on the company's mainframe operating system.

Support for Anaconda on the IBM mainframe is designed to give Python programmers greater access to big data analytics running on the z/OS platform. Tighter integration of big data tools on mainframes appears to be on the rise, according to a vendor survey released last month by Syncsort. The report found that two-thirds of mainframe customers surveyed said the ability to perform big data analytics was "very" or "somewhat" important.

IBM said its partnership with Continuum Analytics, Austin, Texas, and Rocket Software would "help clients running z/OS to get even more out of their transaction data. Not only can they now analyze data at the place of origin and without the need to know COBOL, but it also opens the mainframe to new workloads (Python, Java, Scala, R) and a new generation of users who before may not have had the skills needed to analyze z/OS data."

IBM partner Rocket Software, Waltham, Mass., will help enable the Anaconda stack on z/OS mainframes, the partners said.

The transition of analytics tools such as Spark and Anaconda to big iron is being touted by IBM as a way of integrating and abstracting big data for real-time access to larger data sets. "In the same way that Apache Spark opened the door for big data analytics on the mainframe for Scala and JavaScript programmers, the Anaconda stack of technologies gives that same access to Python programmers," IBM asserted this week in a blog post announcing mainframe support for Anaconda.

These analytics and related machine learning efforts are part of IBM's campaign to promote its z Systems mainframe as both a repository for transactional data as well as a platform for real-time analytics workloads. IBM and other platform makers argue that one of the key benefits is "performing analytics at the source of origin of the data…."

The trend also illustrates how large technology vendors are embracing open source platforms as a way to leverage portable programming languages such as Python.

Meanwhile, IBM is the latest tech giant to embrace the Anaconda stack. Continuum Analytics said last year that Anaconda also supports Intel Corp.'s (NASDAQ: INTC) math kernel library and Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ: MSFT) R Open for statistical analysis.