Red Hat Moves onto Mainframe

Although IBM Corp. and its partners have offered Linuxfor the mainframe for some time, one of the giants of the Linux market wasnotably absent from the zSeries. That changed yesterday when IBM and Red Hat Linux Inc. announced the Red HatLinux distribution is available for the platform.

Red Hat andIBM have had a partnership in place to put Red Hat Linux on IBM’s line of Intelservers, Linux’ traditional home, but only the Turbolinux and SuSE Linuxdistributions were available for the flagship IBM mainframe. Dan Frye directorof IBM linux technology center says the addition of Red Hat helps IBM serve itscustomers better. “It certainly gives our customers more choice,” he says.

To bring RedHat to the mainframe, IBM had to qualify the distribution and solidify businessarrangements to ensure customers would receive the support they need. BecauseIBM had an existing relationship with Red Hat, this was not a daunting task.“Basically we made sure we had the right technical linkage,” he says. A processwas developed to determine which issues IBM supports and which issues Red Hatsupports.

For Red Hat,the IBM partnership shows that the company can put Linux on the full range ofenterprise servers. Mike Evans, vice president of business development at RedHat, says this will help them sell to some customers because they can offer thesame software for all machines. Plus, it shows its distribution scales to thelargest systems available. “It sort of supersedes Unix by having that option,”he says.

Evans saysinterest in mainframe Red Hat is surprisingly strong. “The interest level isactually higher than we expected eight or nine months ago when we startedporting,” he says. Most customers are interested in Linux as a consolidationtool, moving multiple file servers and Web servers onto a single machine.

IBM pitchesLinux-on-the-mainframe for similar infrastructure applications. Although RedHat offers Red Hat Database, a distribution of the open-source PostgreSQLdatabase server, IBM prefers customers choose its DB2 database server foreither z/OS or Linux.

Evans believesthat although Turbolinux and SuSE Linux have a head start on selling Linux forthe zSeries, the companies should not have a huge advantage over Red Hat.“There’s the same competitive element on the mainframe as there is on the Intelplatform,” he says.

Red Hat willalso offer existing mainframe users direct sales and support, so the customersdo not have to go through IBM.  Chris McConnell