A Decade of Linux on the IBM Mainframe, Now Show Me The Money

Despite struggling through Q2 of 2010 with a US$12m drop in net income on the same period last year, Novell continues to plough optimistically forward into the mainframe market with its support for the IBM System z Series.

After what is in fact 10 years of Linux shipments on IBM’s mainframe line, Novell is the market leader for Linux on System z and is the only operating system vendor to have supported Linux on IBM mainframe servers for its entire 10-year history with its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server product.

But despite this decade of software and hardware engineering “excellence”, the commercial bottom line appears to be less healthy.

“We are recognised for our ability to generate ROI for our customers through the consolidation of distributed workloads, reduction of downtime and data centre complexity and increase in operating flexibility,” said Markus Rex, senior vice president and general manager of open platform solutions at Novell.

Novell has delivered commercial-grade Linux mainframes across industries from banking to government to medicine and education; the company’s market proposition being that Linux-based mainframe solutions can help customers to expand critical software applications and system workloads.

However, with a decade of fine-tuning under its belt now, the next 10-years of Linux on the mainframe could provide better financial gains. It has been argued that mainframe technology is enjoying a renaissance due to reduced complexities through improved management software and standardisation of technologies at both the both hardware and software level.

When IBM expanded its use of open source software and enabled Linux to run on IBM mainframe computers it did so as a result of customer demand. Today, with these technologies now well out of their adolescence, the combination of Linux on System z is argued to be an outstanding platform to support cloud computing.

Perhaps now it’s time to show us the money Novell.

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The money has been there for a while, but there two good reasons for a slow acceptance of Linux on the mainframe. The first attempts were dramatic, dramatic performance and high overhead. This made a lot of mainframers very weary and starting a new project these days is not an easy one. The second reason is that we (Mainframers) where never able to "sell" to both our Management AND our Linux Distributed colleagues what we COULD do with Linux on the Mainframe.These days, any initiative to reduce complexity and the # of distributed servers should always include Linux for System z as a possible alternative. The cost savings will be the proof in the pudding, but only if we start with IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service) type cloud offerings. Need 1,2,4,20 Linux servers? It is now possible to offer that in less than 30 minutes. That's the value of Linux on the Mainframe. Sell this first and other successes will follow.Look for more on Mainframe Linux solutions and information on: https://bit.ly/9i4jRJ
Thanks very much for your comment.I do agree with you that the next 10 years "could" represent a swing towards a new level of success for these technologies. At least I think that's what you are suggesting :-)AdrianB