IBM, Linux Foundation Open Up Mainframe Development

A new collaborative project from The Linux Foundation aims to foster Linux development on mainframe computers, while Big Iron vendor IBM is offering up new mainframe Linux servers to the open source community.

The Linux Foundation announced the Open Mainframe Project at the LinuxCon conference in Seattle. It's a joint initiative backed by commercial vendors, government organizations and academic institutions.

"The Open Mainframe Project will focus on finding ways to leverage new software and tools in the Linux environment that are ideal for taking advantage of the mainframe's speed, security, scalability and availability," the foundation said in a news release today. "The project will seek to significantly broaden the set of tools and resources that are intended to drive development and collaboration of mainframe Linux. It will also aim to coordinate mainframe improvements to upstream projects to increase the quality of these code submissions and ease upstream collaboration."

Marking 15 years of Linux running on mainframes, the project's initial academic partners include Marist College, University of Bedfordshire and The Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at University of Washington. Founding members on the commercial side include, ADP, CA Technologies, SUSE, BMC, Compuware, LC3, RSM Partners, Vicom Infinity and IBM.

Speaking of Big Blue, that Big Iron stalwart today announced dual mainframe servers under the LinuxONE moniker, characterized as an expansion of its strategy to embrace open source-based technologies and communities for new-age mainframes increasingly powering Big Data analytics and hybrid clouds.

Packaging together hardware, software and services, LinuxONE Emperor is based on IBM's z13 system, targeting large and mid-sized organizations with what IBM claimed is a combination of the world's most advanced Linux system and the industry's fastest processor.

The Rockhopper version of LinuxONE is a smaller package, providing an entry-point offering with upgrade options available for more advanced uses when organizations are ready, IBM said.

"IBM will enable open source and industry tools and software including Apache Spark, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Chef and Docker on z Systems to provide clients with choice and flexibility for hybrid cloud deployments," the company said.

IBM said its open source code contribution for the new systems is its single largest donation of mainframe code to the community. "The code, designed to fuel digital transformation, includes technology from IBM's mainframe to help enterprises identify issues and help prevent failures before they happen, help improve performance across platforms and enable better integration with the broader network and cloud," the company said.

The company also announced the LinuxONE Developer Cloud, described as a virtual research-and-development engine for creating and testing applications, including built-in linkages to "engagement systems" and mobile and hybrid cloud applications.

"Marist College and Syracuse University's School of Information Studies plan to host clouds that provide developers access to a virtual IBM LinuxONE at no cost," IBM said. "As part of the program, IBM also will create a special cloud for independent software providers (ISVs) hosted at IBM sites in Dallas, Beijing and Boeblingen, Germany, that provide application vendors access and a free trial to LinuxONE resources to port, test and benchmark new applications for the LinuxONE and z Systems platform."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.