Businesses developing e-commerce applications will be able to give them a dry run in a realistic environment with an initiative from IBM.
The computer giant has unveiled a centre in Montpelier, France, for European users to test what it describes as cutting-edge e-commerce applications.
William Zeiter, general manager of the enterprise server division at IBM, said the Design Centre for E Transaction Processing would be a "proving ground" for e-commerce applications.
Zeiter said users would be able to test multi-platform integration. "The centre is designed to help users deploy hybrid architectures," he said.
The centre provides S/390, AIX, Netfinity, Sun and Cisco hardware.
Many IBM users operate S/390 and Cisco routers, Zeiter said. Using the Connected Workload Managers supplied by IBM and Cisco, it is possible for the network equipment to perform load-balancing for the mainframe, reducing downtime. The S/390 can route data to the least busy network device.
The centre can also test the Linux operating system running on a variety of IBM hardware. Zeiter said Linux on the S/390, unveiled last month, would be the bargain of the century, offering users the next step in open application development.
While Zeiter saw the mainframe continuing its role in the datacentre for traditional transaction processing, Linux and Java offered cross-platform development for new applications.
IBM's strategy is to provide tools to enable users to build cross-platform applications based on Java and Linux, then decide the platforms on which to deploy.
This is where Zeiter believed the centre would come in useful. Linux and IBM's Websphere application server will become sources for building new applications on the S/390 he said.
The facility is free but it would only be available to a select group of IBM users.