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Linux on IBM Z Positions Clients to Move Forward

Linux on IBM Z


Through the lens of a new wave of technological advances built around advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, container development, blockchain, cloud and data security, a strategy shift is occurring in how mainframes are being used and leveraged. At the same time, mainframes are being refreshed with features around Linux*, pervasive encryption, virtualization and performance—all integrated on a common hardware platform.

Many industries are evolving their AI applications (e.g., to gain more business insights from their data). Mainframes running Linux provide a secure and robust infrastructure to handle these growing workloads with advanced computing, cloud and encryption needs. So, what does the future have in store for IBM Z* and IBM LinuxONE* systems?

We are seeing a tectonic shift in strategy with how mainframes are being leveraged and utilized. Linux on mainframes will lead the charge through a renewed focus on cloud-based services, AI and machine learning workloads, and blockchain technologies.

Machine Learning and AI Move Forward

Machine learning enables users to perform analytics and pattern matching directly on the mainframe—and requires performance, scheduling and data services running on Linux to meet the needs of these AI-based workloads. IBM is bringing IBM Watson* technology-based machine learning software to mainframes, which already run the most valuable transactional workloads for the biggest organizations in the world.

These organizations are eager to perform data science on that information, but it’s difficult because of where it’s stored. The answer for many mainframe shops has been to move the data to a separate environment. The problem, however, is that organizations with sensitive information (e.g., banks and healthcare companies), are increasingly concerned about cybercrime and moving around personal customer and patient information more than they have to.

Therefore, an ideal solution is to enable advanced analytics to run directly on the mainframe, and anything that the Linux OS can do to support and manage these high-intensity, performance-driven workloads is essential.

Cloud Management Rejuvenates IBM Z

The latest mainframe additions are rejuvenating the market, and include technologies that enable cloud deployment and management for a new wave of cloud-based services. The IBM z14* platform entices users to stay on the mainframe for enterprise practicality and increased cloud security—at a competitive price.

The fact is, if something were to happen to IBM mainframes around the world today, it would be an apocalyptic event—global economies could start failing. Many financial and insurance organizations rely on large and often complex mainframe systems, with many running Linux. An incredible amount of value exists in them because of the applications they run and the data they manage.

And now that so many businesses are relying on cloud services, being able to run OpenStack on the mainframe is a big part of the mainframe’s strategy. Many vendors are enabling OpenStack on Linux and IBM Z, which can be used to provision and manage z/VM running Linux.

Encryption Boosts Security

The latest cryptographic hardware in mainframes addresses enterprises that need extra security layers for sensitive data, touting the need to increase data protection and thwart possible hacking attempts.

For any enterprise that integrates cloud, AI or other advanced technologies, this fulfills the need for better data security. And with every new IBM Z hardware and Linux software update comes more security on top of pervasive, end-to-end data encryption.

Container Management on LinuxONE

The LinuxONE systems can manage up to 2 million Docker containers, handle Java* workloads and incorporate a host of new capabilities to appeal to a broad range of enterprise users. In addition, Linux vendors are adding powerful container platforms that deploy and manage containers on VMs, orchestrated by Kubernetes, with tighter security and a full range of microservices.

To date, only a handful of efforts have been made to tie monolithic, transaction-based mainframe applications to container-based platforms and tools, but IT professionals are more interested in connecting these environments. Users are looking for ways to take advantage of containers and all of the data on mainframes. In addition, LinuxONE systems include the automatic encryption of data in-flight and at rest, as well as during installation and runtime.

The platform provides a solid environment to explore the demand for container technologies in ways that others in the container security and management market can’t.

Blockchain Opens More Doors

By extending pervasive encryption to work in concert with blockchain, mainframes have a distinct advantage in security over the competition. The blockchain distributed database helps corporate IT shops accelerate their digital transformation. Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared and continually reconciled database. Therefore, the blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location and the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable.

No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet. So, while it’s primarily used for financial transactions, blockchain can record virtually anything of value. Employing end-to-end data encryption with the mainframe bolsters the security overall for blockchain in a very big way.

Bright Future for Linux on the Mainframe

While challenges in perceptions, cost and skills will continue to exist, IBM Z and LinuxONE systems are evolving and developing new value propositions that position the hardware perfectly to handle the application workloads of today and tomorrow.

Jeff Reser is the global product and solutions marketing manager at SUSE. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in astrophysics and computer science from Pennsylvania State University.


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