Operating Systems

The Next Wave of Consolidation

The rise of Linux on System z is closely related to a wave of consolidation projects building on the mainframe's virtualization. Efficient management of tens and hundreds of virtual servers, the ability to highly utilize resources, and the foundation of a powerful, resilient platform are mainframe advantages that helped move many distributed servers into System z environments. Some systems couldn’t be easily consolidated for cost-effectiveness or availability reasons, at least without reworking components of the solutions.

With zBX, zEnterprise can change this picture and complete consolidation cases. Now these servers can be integrated into the mainframe environment, and Linux on System z's application integration technology can reduce the complexity of managing this heterogeneous application landscape, also reducing the number of application management endpoints.

The operational focus is essential to the discussion of application integration; this technology is an ideal match for scenarios where business solutions in Linux on System z are extended by x86 components, centering the hybrid setup around System z procedures and setups. In contrast, when a zEnterprise environment embraces management patterns, procedures, and possibly personnel of both the distributed and System z worlds, or x86 virtual servers are mainly managed on an image granularity, then extending System z operational patterns to x86 nodes won’t add value. Also, x86 installations not related to Linux on System z back-end software probably won’t see significant benefit from operational integration in Linux on System z.

Dream and Reality

Two major design goals have dominated the development of application integration:

• Don't change the x86 and System z OS environments so existing Independent Software Vendor (ISV) certification statements remain valid; don't modify the kernel or system packages.

• Don't fool the system administrator; don't add too much magic that can sometimes translate to complexity.

With these goals in mind, a genuine single system image will remain unrealistic. However, a pragmatic implementation can come close to this vision in many respects.

The first step in integrating Linux on x86 components into a Linux on System z environment is to attach an x86 virtual server. This virtual server's definition and instantiation are performed through the zManager, and IP connectivity through the Intra-Ensemble Data Network (IEDN) is required between the System z and x86 instances. Installation of a SUSE or Red Hat Linux environment is also a prerequisite, along with the application integration rpm packages on both sides. Then, the x86 virtual server can be attached to the Linux on System z environment. This attachment established various integration points, some of which are explained in the following paragraphs.

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