Mainframes may seem like dinosaurs at first glance these days, but IBM's big iron is still evolving. The company introduced its first exclusively Linux-based mainframes yesterday under the LinuxOne umbrella. LinuxOne systems are meant to allow businesses to host their Linux infrastructure on IBM's high-performance, high-availability mainframe hardware.
Companies can pick from three distros. Red Hat and SUSE Enterprise Linux flavors have been available for mainframes for some time, and they're already compatible with LinuxOne systems. IT departments can also choose their preferred "runtime, hypervisor, database, analytics and cloud management tools." IBM is partnering with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to its mainframes as a third open-source option.
Big Blue has also contributed some of its predictive IT analytics code to the Linux Foundation, which is creating an "Open Mainframe Project" to "advance development and adoption of Linux on the mainframe."
Mainframe hardware doesn't look like a commodity x86 server at all. The LinuxOne Emperor (like emperor penguins, get it?), based on IBM's z13 mainframe, can be configured with up to 32 8-core, 5GHz z13 microprocessors. All that processing power is backed with up to 10TB of memory, and up to 320 lanes of PCI Express expansion. The Emperor can host up to 8,000 virtual machines or "hundreds of thousands" of Docker containers. A smaller LinuxOne Rockhopper is also available for businesses that want to get their toes into the Linux-on-the-mainframe waters without committing to the Emperor.