IBM, Novell to slash Linux prices for mainframes

Keep those MIPS a-rollin'


With System z mainframe revenues down 39 per cent - and MIPS mainframe capacity shipments off 20 percent in the second quarter - IBM is keen on boosting mainframe sales. And it wants to use Linux as a lever.

Commercial Linux distributor Novell has a more than 80 per cent share of Linux revenues on IBM's mainframe platform. The company has been shipping its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 since the end of March, and it wants to get more mainframe shops to add SLES 11 to Integrated Facility for Linux engines.

These are special low-cost 64-bit mainframe engines that use z/VM to partition the engines and manage multiple Linux instances on them. Novell makes a lot more money selling a support contract on a mainframe engine than it does on an x64 or Power server, so it wants to keep pushing SLES 11 hard into mainframe shops.

IBM, Marist College (in upstate New York and near Blue Blue's Poughkeepsie mainframe stomping grounds), and SUSE Linux (the formerly independent German Linux distro that was eaten by Novell in late 2003) worked together on an official Linux port to the mainframe in 1999 and delivered it in 2000. The first enterprise-grade SUSE Linux for the mainframe was delivered with SLES 8 in 2003, including official support at what x86 and x64 shops would call an outrageous price. But it looks like a bargain to mainframe customers used to paying IBM's outrageous monthly license fees for z/OS, z/VM, and z/VSE and their related middleware and database programs.

The word on the street is that Big Blue and commercial Linux distributor Novell are getting ready to announce big price cuts on support contracts for Linux on the mainframe (to help boost sales of IFLs) and for SLES 11 on the mainframe. In addition to pricing, Novell and IBM want to use some new technology that comes in SLES 11 as a lever, hoping to get more companies interested in putting Linux on mainframes in the first place.

Apparently, half of the mainframe shops in the world use Linux in some share or form, according to surveys done by IBM and Novell. (Not just on the mainframe, but on any platform). And both companies - because of the juicy profit margins that come with mainframe Linux support contracts - want to see more big iron running SLES 11.

First, let's talk about a few mainframe-specific features in SLES 11. Novell has added cross-architectural debugging, which allows a System z core dump to be downloaded from a mainframe and analyzed on an x64 server. SLES 11 also allows for mainframe processor cores and memory capacity to be dynamically added and removed from Linux guest operating systems running atop the z/VM hypervisor and the IFL engines.

SLES 11 also gives mainframe shops the disk subsystem performance analysis data and tools for disks attached to mainframes using the SCSI over Fibre Channel protocol. And it has made way fo the z10 engine's inherent NUMA clustering. It can boost Linux performance by scheduling processes to run on engines that are close to the appropriate data sets in the NUMA cluster's cache or main memory. (This is called CPU node affinity).

SLES 11 on the mainframe now supports the large memory pages (1 MB) of the z10 processors, and it has had its IPv4 HiperSocket networking tweaked and IPv6 networking added. The Mono open source .NET/C# runtime environment also runs on mainframes and is supported for the first time in SLES 11 (This is true across all server platforms where SLES 11 runs).

Next page: The pricing deal

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022