Straight Talk for Mainframe Executives: Ready-to-Run Linux on System z—An Interview With IBM’s Reed Mullen
Mainframe Executive recently spoke with Reed Mullen, consolidation and virtualization initiative leader for IBM System z. Mullen joined IBM in 1981 as a junior programmer in the VM/SP Development organization located in Endicott, NY. Over the years, he has held management, product planning, and strategy development positions in the IBM mainframe organization. In 1999, he played a key role in developing the Linux on S/390 business plan that leverages the mainframe’s ability to host large-scale virtual server environments. Since then, he has applied his expertise in the areas of strategy, business development, and technical marketing support to help grow the Linux on System z business.
Mainframe Executive: With Linux on the mainframe approaching its 10th anniversary, what has been the uptake of Linux on System z?
Reed Mullen: Today, 70 percent of our top-100 mainframe clients are running Linux. The demographics reveal strong client acceptance for Linux on System z. Linux represents about 16 percent of our install base as measured by total mainframe processor capacity sold, with a 50 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for Linux processor capacity used since 2004. This is even more impressive when you consider the high degree of total processor capacity growth the mainframe has experienced in the past 10 years. The Independent Software Vendor (ISV) community has shown great support for the platform, with more than 3,000 applications available for Linux on System z.
Indeed, the 10th anniversary is a great time to look back on the success of Linux on System z. For those who want more information, naturally, IBM has published individual client testimonials that tell an even more powerful story, covering a broad range of business value issues. We recently featured a customer who converted 60 distributed servers to one mainframe in a 48-hour period.
ME: Before we discuss the new Linux offerings for System z, first, please tell us about Solution Editions for System z in general. How many different Solution Editions are there currently, and what are IBM’s motives behind these offerings?
RM: Solution Editions are a packaging of hardware and software with a solution price that puts the acquisition cost of a System z offering closer to UNIX system alternatives, and in one case, we came out 40 percent lower than our competitor!
So far, we’ve announced 11 different offerings using this approach (see sidebar). Regarding motivations, our System z Solution Editions address two key requirements. The first is accelerating the Return on Investment (ROI) for enterprise-class business solutions based on IBM System z technology. The modest premium one pays to acquire a Solution Edition delivers significant dividends over time with unmatched qualities of service and operational efficiencies. This is important because businesses are discovering the “good enough” characteristics of classic distributed system computing are no longer good enough in a world that’s experiencing exponential growth in data, transactions, and connectivity. IBM System z Solution Editions offer better acquisition and ownership economics, along with unmatched levels of security, reliability, and workload management capabilities.
Another motivation for Solution Editions is the need to simplify the selling and buying process. By offering a compelling price on a collection of hardware and software technology, sellers and clients are able to set aside much of the time and energy typically spent on constructing the piece parts and negotiating a price for a large system configuration. This leaves more time to focus on understanding why a System z Solution Edition offers better business value than alternative platforms. This helps create a win-win situation for sellers and our clients, and ultimately jumpstarts the solution deployment and time to value for the customer.
ME: Please give us a brief overview of the two new Enterprise Linux offerings for mainframe customers.
RM: The new offerings are called Enterprise Linux Server (ELS) and Solution Edition for Enterprise Linux. Both are a packaging of hardware and software that delivers a ready-to-run Linux environment on System z. Both are eligible for new offerings and promotions from our Linux distribution partners, Novell and Red Hat, which further enhances the economic attractiveness of running Linux on the mainframe.