IBM is betting that its increasing support for Linux on mainframes, combined with the ability of those systems to run multiple data-processing workloads at the same time, will help drive big iron machines into new kinds of applications this year.
The computer maker is predicting it will sell about 1.6 million mainframe MIPS during the course of this year. At least half of that total is expected to go into new application areas such as enterprise resource planning, e-commerce, customer relationship management and server consolidation, said Dan Colby, IBM's general manager of enterprise servers, at the company's PartnerWorld 2001 conference in Atlanta this week.
And the open-source Linux operating system will likely drive much of that new business, Colby said. He added that IBM is hoping to attract users through the ability of mainframes such as its new zSeries 900 to run virtually thousands of Linux server applications within a single box. It also plans to attract users with the increasing availability of Linux-enabled mainframe tools and software.
"Linux is bringing a lot more flexibility to the mainframe than ever before," acknowledged Rich Smircina, a data center manager at Grede Foundries Inc. The company currently has two domain name servers running Linux on its IBM mainframe, in addition to other Linux servers used for e-mail and network monitoring.
The Linux systems have been in place for more than a year and have "been great so far" from a performance and reliability standpoint, Smircina said.
As part of an effort to tap other users to join companies such as Grede, IBM this week said it plans to roll out a series of new Linux initiatives aimed at delivering education, certification, co-marketing, incentives and technical support for its business partners. The company is also strengthening efforts to keep users from migrating off its mainframes.
For example, users who are contemplating switching from IBM's older VSE and VM mainframes to other systems will be able to get financial incentives, deeper discounts, bundled software deals and migration services if they install newer big iron machines instead. And users of IBM's Generation 3 and Generation 4 mainframes will be automatically upgraded to a Generation 5 system when they buy a Linux engine for US$250,000.