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IBM Announces First Linux-only Mainframes 218

A reader writes "The new Z-series mainframe for Linux, which costs $400,000 and is aimed at processing transactions at large businesses, is IBM's first mainframe computer sold without IBM's traditional z/OS mainframe operating system. More info at the IBM zSeries page" This is something that IBM and others of Big Iron vendors of *NIX have said - as Linux grows in maturity, they want to replace their *NIX with Linux. However, there's still work to be done in that area.
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IBM Announces First Linux-only Mainframes

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  • HOT SWAPPING!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maddog_Delphi97 ( 173780 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @09:06AM (#2900082)
    Does it support Hot Swapping?

    I would think hot swapping would be one feature truely worthy of a mainframe operating system... especially if you can all of the different possible parts of a mainframe and still keep all of your applications running 24/7.
  • Relative costs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Charles Dodgeson ( 248492 ) <jeffrey@goldmark.org> on Friday January 25, 2002 @09:10AM (#2900092) Homepage Journal
    The article cites cost concerns, but how much does using a linux reduce the price of a $400,000 machine? (Cost of ownership may well go down, but I'm asking about purchase price.)
  • Licensing discount? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 25, 2002 @09:13AM (#2900100) Homepage Journal

    (nb: The last IBM big-box I worked on was a first generation AS400 so this question may be dated)
    I recall licensing of IBM's OSs to be fairly expensive, have they cut prices at all to reflect the fact that a lot (the bulk?) of the vanilla Linux development happens outside IBM, therefore costing them nothing?
  • by kenneth_martens ( 320269 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @09:20AM (#2900136)
    "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" has today been replaced with "Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft." However, in the case of the IBM iServers and zServers, Linux is replacing a proprietary Unix, not a Microsoft OS.

    This is a step forward for Linux (although perhaps a smaller one that at first glance, because you already could get IBM servers with Linux--these are just the first Linux-only servers) but not a step backwards for Microsoft.

    That seems to be the trend now, anyway--remember when Amazon said they saved millions of dollars by using Linux? Those Linux systems replaced Unix systems, not Microsoft Windows systems.
  • by bmongar ( 230600 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @09:22AM (#2900144)
    I recall licensing of IBM's OSs to be fairly expensive, have they cut prices at all to reflect the fact that a lot (the bulk?) of the vanilla Linux development happens outside IBM, therefore costing them nothing?
    Acording to the article the answer seems to be yes. They said the $400,000 linux box was about equal in power to a $750,000 mainfraim. So around $350,000 in OS savings.
  • Can it be... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spackler ( 223562 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @09:51AM (#2900251) Journal
    Will this mean that IBM will finally replace OS/2 as the bootstrap and control server?
    Replacing that with Linux would be a nice start!

    For those that do not have the benifit of a 390 sitting behind them, it is very disconcerting to have that big black IBM monitor on top of it, because it is running OS/2 on a Celeron board inside the mainframe to control the whole show.
  • Re:Can it be... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2002 @10:34AM (#2900430)
    Give me a break. Someone seems to mention this almost every time an article discussing IBM mainframes comes up. If you (gasp!) UNPLUG that OS/2-running laptop, watch what happens. Will your network collapse? Will the entire thing end in a bunch of flames?

    You'd be quite bored to notice that things keep running just like normal.

    The only purpose of the controller computer is to configure the mainframe, provide quick access to load information, etc. The mainframe is entirely self-reliant, and does not need the controller for normal operation. (It does communicate with the controller frequently during normal use, but none of that communication is mission-critical.) The sole time that the laptop is required in order for the mainframe to be even operational is to load the bootstrap, and for that purpose I could care less if the thing ran DOS.
  • Re:Relative costs? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @10:44AM (#2900473) Homepage Journal

    ...they mention that one of the $400,000 servers can replace 'hundreds of servers'

    Well, it better replace hundreds of servers, because you could theoretcially purchase hundreds of cheap rack-mounted boxes for a similar amount of money.

    It's got to pay off in a different way than providing equivalent computing horsepower to hundreds of PC servers.

    Is it in reduced hardware maintenance headaches, easier to manage than a crowd of servers?

    Is someone out there with experience in managing racks of PCs and mainframes for a while able to tell us how much of an incentive there is to use the mainframes instead of racks `o PCs?

  • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @10:58AM (#2900533)

    Architecture is the key. What's the difference between a 120 MIPS mainframe and 3000 MIPS desktop, and why is the 120 MIPS mainframe faster in mainframe type applications?

    Exactly. The point that most /.ers seem to forget is that not every computing task is cpu bound. Mainframes are a specialized tool for doing a specialized job, namely processing a huge number of transactions quickly, in a totally reliable manner. CPU speed is not the limiting factor for this type of task -- I/O throughput is; and this is precicely where mainframe architecture beats the pants off of x86 hardware. If you don't understand the strengths and weaknesses of the different kinds of computer architectures, you don't have any business making technical reccomendations to your employer.

    A good engineer picks the best tool for the task at hand. Depending on the computing task, the best computer could be a mainframe, a MPP supercomputer, a commodity SMP server, a cluster of desktop PCs, or some other specialized architecture.

    Commidity x86 hardware is great, and can do an acceptably good job on a wide variety of tasks, but it isn't the be-all and end-all of computers. Just because you haven't worked on anything else doesn't mean that other computer architectures are outdated crap.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2002 @11:07AM (#2900576)
    When I worked for VF Corporation (think Lee Jeans, Vanity Fair) we used IBM mainframes for everything: purchasing, accounts, payroll, inventory, etc, etc.

    Why? We needed the reliability. We ran mock disaster drills where we simulated a disaster which destroyed our whole data center. IBM was able to restore the complete operation within six hours by using their own remote, secure fallback site hundreds of miles away, including restoring lost data. We actually tested this many times, pulling the plug on everything in our data center and seeing how long IBM could have us up and running again. It is friggin amazing.

    VF is a multi-billion dollar company with operations on almost every continent. If we lost our data center, we would have been screwed. IBM was worth evey penny for the amazing security which they provoided for our operations.

  • m$ hurt as well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @11:08AM (#2900579)
    Without Linux, how long would it take for Microsoft to take the whole server market away from Sun? The trend was set when they released two different versions of NT, "workstation" and "server". The fact that they don't have any version called "server" anymore may reflect a reality check they have done, realizing it will not be so easy after all.
  • That's funny... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Archie Steel ( 539670 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @11:23AM (#2900649)
    ...we don't see too many Anonymous Cowards claiming that Linux is a "toy" operating system in this particular discussion.

    I guess 400k$ is a little expensive for a toy!
  • by MrBoring ( 256282 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @11:32AM (#2900685)
    Speed is probably priority 4 or 5. It's ease of use that's 8 or 9.
  • Datacenter in a box (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ehiris ( 214677 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @11:57AM (#2900830) Homepage
    My company purchased one for web hosting

    The system uses VM as a base but has multiple instances of SuSE running. It is able to run up to 10000 instances of Linux which makes it a data center in a box.

    There is no bus and the communication between the processor banks, memory, ... are switched.

    First time I've seen it my eyes jumped out of the sockets.

    Good Job IBM :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 25, 2002 @06:57PM (#2903859)
    Don't underestimate the impact this will have on business purchaing. Many (most?) senior-management-types have Big Iron backgrounds. They have built their careers on IBM systems and IBM announcing they are offering linux on a "real computer" give linux enormous credibility with the Guys With The Checkbooks. This is assuming IBM does a good job of rolling out and supporting linux, but then IBM tends to be very conservative when it comes to mainframes. Let a few of these get into production and run well, and the Sr. VPs of the world WILL be asking "why don't we put linux on our smaller systems and save some cash? It runs great on the mainframe..." Plus IBM will SUPPORT it, overcoming a big obstacle to linux in the mainstream business server marketplace. (Yes, I know M$ doesn't support Windoze for shit)

    Look for a massive new outpouring of FUD from the Redmondians - this news has to got to have Ballmer, Gates & co. shitting their pants...

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming