Sep 19 ’13

“Virtual x86 Machines” Created in Minutes with Second Beta Release of z86VM by Mantissa Corporation

Following years of intense development, Mantissa is releasing the second beta of z86VM, a system which permits you to create "virtual x86 machines" for use as servers or desktop systems in minutes.

Existing IBM zEnterprise server customers already have the capacity for hundreds or thousands of these virtual x86 machines. They can try a free version of the z86VM beta software to explore possibilities for massive consolidation of PC servers and deployment of virtual desktop infrastructure. The original beta shipped with Damn Small Linux (DSL). This beta will ship with Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Linux. SME Server (formerly known as e-smith) is a CentOS Linux distribution specifically optimized and configured for use as web, file, email and database servers. It employs a comprehensive browser UI for all management-related tasks.


Mantissa's z86VM provides a 32 bit virtual x86 environment which cannot be distinguished by software from real x86 hardware. That means operating systems like Linux for x86 or Windows® will run without alteration under IBM z/VM, the most secure, scalable virtualization environment available. The most important aspect of this virtual operating environment is that no changes are required to move 32 bit x86 operating systems and applications to the z86VM environment. Current test projection modeling shows that up to 50,000 virtual images may be able to operate efficiently on a fully configured zEnterprise server.

"Cloud computing, server consolidation, virtual desktops, security and resilience are all important considerations for customers of the zEnterprise server," said Gary Dennis, co-Founder, Mantissa. "Most x86 virtualization deployments waste between 25 and 50 percent of all available hardware capacity.  The z86VM approach can't do that because there is no real x86 hardware. As we deliver additional functionality in each beta release, our goal is to go beyond existing zEnterprise customers and offer a product that can address any business's computing capacity need."

A New Era of Hybrid, Ultra High Density Computing (UHDC)

In 2011, IBM introduced the zEnterprise server as the first hybrid-computing environment to include different instruction architectures. This was accomplished through the interoperability of the z196 server with the zEnterprise Blade center Extension (zBX).  z86VM enhances hybrid computing by enabling support for two hardware instruction architectures within a single physical server. z86VM can use the same software binary images as x86 platforms. It should reduce the time to deploy those workloads as no new software versions need to be acquired or developed. UHDC also provides opportunities to reduce software license costs, environmental costs, operational expense and complexity.

The z/VM hypervisor is capable of running 10's of thousands of virtual system images in a single server. Most of the redundancy necessary for business resilience, fault isolation and disaster recovery is built into the zEnterprise server family and the z/VM hypervisor. Businesses moving workloads from other server platforms to the zEnterprise have seen significant reductions in operating costs. The z/VM hypervisor provides security functionality that compartmentalizes one virtual guest from another in such a way that bad behavior by one virtual guest cannot compromise the execution or data associated with another virtual guest. This is backed by IBM's System Integrity guarantee.

Beta2 Objectives

Mantissa is expanding testing beyond the initial 20 customers of beta1. The goal of this release is to determine workload applicability, develop migration strategies for x86 machine images and better understand scaling limitations. Future beta releases are expected to include trial versions of Microsoft Windows, with a goal of providing full spectrum consolidation and cloud computing support. The goal is to have z86VM generally available by the end of 2013.  Pricing information will be available with the announcement of general availability.

Beta2 Participation

Getting started with z86VM is easy. Businesses running Linux for System z are already running the IBM z/VM hypervisor. Minimal user and networking definition is required and from that point, z86VM can be quickly deployed. Further information and documentation is provided on request.  In order to become a beta participant, Email and place "z86VM Beta" in the subject.

Contact information
Gary Dennis
(205) 968-3939

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