IBM’s zEnterprise 196 was a game changer in many ways, but it’s a big beast with a hefty price tag. When the zEnterprise 114 (z114) was announced in July 2011, it made those game-changing advantages available to a much broader section of the business world. IBM expects the z114 to sell well in several emerging markets (Asia, Africa, etc.). As with all game-changing technologies, there are associated problems. But one man’s problem is another man’s opportunity; that’s what we will examine here.
The z114 is a Business Class version of the zEnterprise 196. It costs $75,000 for the basic machine. The z114 has a smaller 3.8GHz processor than the z196, which uses a 5.3GHz processor. It’s possible to configure up to 14 processors. Purchasers can also use up to 10 specialty engines—the System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) for Java workloads and System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) for running a small number of IBM-determined applications, and the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) for Linux workloads. These specialty processors execute programs away from the main processors and can provide cost savings.
Let’s consider the opportunities this new hardware provides.
Linux on System z
Linux on System z runs as a native operating system; there’s no emulation involved, though many sites run Linux on System z under z/VM, so there can be any number of virtualized systems. There are two main versions of Linux for the mainframe—SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z (SLES) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for mainframe computing. Reports from analyst groups such as Gartner and the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker suggest that more sites use SUSE than Red Hat. On the distributed platforms, it seems more sites use Red Hat.
One of the big advantages of running Linux on a mainframe is the IFL specialty processor, which can run Linux applications like a central processor but without the usage charge associated with central processors. As with other specialty processors, there’s a separate charge for the IFL specialty processor. An organization can increase the amount of work processed on its IFL without incurring additional charges; it’s a great opportunity to get many Linux systems off individual servers and onto the mainframe.
Other reasons given for running Linux on System z include the:
- Reliability of mainframe hardware compared to other platforms
- Ability to overcome server sprawl, or, in its current and growing incarnation, virtualized server sprawl.
Running under VM provides the familiarity of running multiple servers on a virtual system, with the added advantage of them all being in the same place. Migrating to a mainframe allows all the various servers that were in use to be repurposed or removed. Removing them saves on energy, air-conditioning, and space requirements. Moreover, some Linux servers may need to be replaced. So there’s further savings in hardware. There’s also a savings on staff and maintenance costs for the old Linux servers. Another advantage of running on a mainframe is that, usually, repairs and changes can be made to hardware without shutting down the Linux system, which isn’t necessarily true on other platforms.
Another advantage of getting Linux systems onto a mainframe is the ability to deploy new services faster and with fewer resources. Most CFOs will be impressed by the new TCO figures resulting from migrating to a mainframe. The more Linux systems moved, the more the economies of scale support the mainframe solution.
Migrate Other UNIX Systems