The view from IBM is that it is far less expensive to deploy an e-commerce implementation on S/390 than Unix.
As a result, William Zeitler, general manager at IBM's Enterprise Server Division, says he is seeing a rebirth of the mainframe. "Users are concerned about the proliferation of Web application servers. They are expensive to deploy," he explains.
Linux is the tool that Zeitler believes will fuel demand for mainframe technology. Last month IBM officially unveiled Linux for the S/390.
"Linux on the S/390 can be used for server consolidation," says Zeitler. For example, e-business applications tend to run hundreds of lightly loaded Intel or Unix servers. According to Zeitler, the S/390 could replace a large number of such servers. "Each Intel server in a Web implementation is lightly loaded. It may run software such as a firewall or the Apache Web server," Zeitler explains.
He says there are two benefits for consolidating and aggregating Web applications on the S/390 - price and performance.
According to Zeitler, Linux - combined with Java and XML (Extensible Markup Language) - will be the platform for the next generation of mainframe development.
IBM has recently opened its second Design Centre for E Transaction Processing in Montpelier, France. The centre will provide a place where users can test cutting-edge e-commerce applications that are distributed across multiple hardware platforms.
The centre provides a place where users can deploy hybrid architectures that involve multi-platform integration. Use of the centre is free to selected companies.
The facility allows IBM to see how users are building state-of-the-art e-commerce systems. This enables Big Blue to identify how it can evolve its software and hardware to simplify e-commerce implementations.
One area within IBM that Zeitler has been involved in is organising the various server businesses. Technology and skills are now shared between the RS/6000, AS/400, S/390 and Netfinity groups he says.
"Three years ago the AS/400 and the RS/6000 were fundamentally different." Today, apart from the design of the bus architecture and the operating system, the two servers are effectively identical, he says.
Portable applications solution environment (Pase) technology on the AS/400 was derived from the RS group. This enables the AS/400 to support Aix, IBM's version of Unix, Zeitler explains.
Silicon on insulator technology, which will be available on the AS/400 in July, will also eventually be a part of S/390, says Zeitler.
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This was first published in June 2000