Linux on z Systems Accelerates New and Traditional Workloads

Linux z Systems
Illustration by Atelier Olschinsky

For a number of years, IBM has supported Apache Hadoop and Spark open-source analytics software offerings, which run on Linux. IBM also has enabled newer open-source analytics solutions such as MongoDB and PostgreSQL, Thoss notes. Analytics influence not just software but also the OS and hardware. “It has to be part of the stack,” he says.

Analytics rely on data serving, and z Systems hardware boasts fast processors, large caches and dedicated I/O coprocessors to handle these data-intense workloads. The platform’s design gives users the ability to implement more complex analytic algorithms to gain better insights, faster. A client that recently evaluated moving its fraud detection neural network onto Linux on IBM z described the latency reduction as “opening the aperture on innovation,” Mitran says. “Such improved insights help our clients make better business decisions while enriching the end user’s experience,” he remarks.

“We show clients how they can host their data and analytics in close proximity to change their SoRs into systems of insight.”
—Ingo Adlung, IBM Distinguished Engineer, chief architect and CTO, z Systems virtualization and Linux

Mainframes enable tailored solutions—such as blockchain—to be created. Blockchain technology has been available for many years, but the commercial interest in it is recent, Adlung says. For clients looking to build their own blockchain environment, IBM can assist with blockchain on-premises in the data center. Through Bluemix* technology, IBM also offers access to blockchain services in the cloud so clients don’t need to host them in the data center. In January, the company began offering an on-premises blockchain environment that uses secure service container technology, allowing clients to fully encapsulate the blockchain environment, Adlung says.

Qualities of service are important for blockchain. Clients can capitalize on their mainframe investment as they innovate on blockchain, taking advantage of the cryptography, security and reliability of z Systems, Mitran says. (Find out more at

Linux on z Systems also helps clients with mobile. For scale-out workloads such as IBM MobileFirst*, Linux on IBM z makes it possible to transparently add guests to the system as the workload grows, Mitran explains. Linux guests can be networked via HiperSockets* providing an ultra-low latency in-memory communication channel. It’s another example of how the platform “offers a unique environment for building highly available, high-speed and scalable solutions for next-gen apps and digital transformation,” he notes.

Keeping Up With Change

The accelerated pace of technology has also changed how IBM works. System updates must be delivered fast, and IBM is always listening to client feedback and making changes to better serve users, Thoss says.

Linux on IBM z clients know they’re on the right path to pursue innovation and are aware of the business opportunities it brings. Some are stretching the envelope and want state-of-the-art technologies right away. “We have to support them, and we are happily facing that challenge,” Adlung says.

IBM will continue to enhance software in conjunction with its distribution partners Canonical, Red Hat and SUSE. This will involve not only capabilities for z/VM, KVMs and the cloud stack but also more features tailored to offerings such as blockchain as a service, Thoss notes.

If your organization isn’t already using Linux on the mainframe, this is a good time to find out what you’re missing. The z Systems platform is the premier hosting environment for open-source technology for both unstructured and traditional structured data. It also provides a good foundation to build further workloads that need to be close to the data, Adlung says.

IBM works with clients to understand their risks and provide solutions that fit their needs. “If a client has a high-risk workload that needs to be in a secure environment and handle future growth, we can offer the capabilities of the mainframe with traditional and open-source workloads,” Thoss confirms. IBM will be there every step of the way as the client makes the transition.

Linux on z Systems can help both current and potential clients meet business challenges now and have room to grow to meet future demands.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at

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