Linux Rises on the Mainframe

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About 25 percent of new workloads running in a mainframe these days are making use of Linux rather than running directly on top of the venerable z/OS platform that has been so closely associated with the mainframe for the better part of four decades.

As more IT organizations find themselves managing Linux and z/OS side by side on the mainframe, many of them are looking for new tools that allow them to better holistically manage both environments. To help address that issue, CA Technologies has upgraded CA VM:Manager Suite for Linux on System z and a new capability for CA Solve Operations Automation.

Unveiled at the SHARE mainframe users conference this week, the new release adds more integrated system and security management capabilities, support for tape management capabilities for Linux on System z, and the ability to faster provision products from CA Technologies on a virtual machine. The company also enhanced CA Solve Operations Automation in a way that allows Linux applications to be managed as if they are System z applications, which reduces the need for dedicated Linux expertise.

In addition, CA Technologies announced partnerships with Innovation Data Processing, which provides Linux storage management tools, and Velocity Software, which provides Linux performance management tools.

According to Mark Combs, distinguished senior vice president, mainframe at CA Technologies, the issue that most mainframe sites are wrestling with is that as they take advantage of the mainframe to consolidate Linux servers, they need management tools that are optimized for versions of Linux that have been deployed on virtual machines running on top of z/OS.

Of course, with the addition of lower-cost mainframe platforms such as the new z114 system, we're starting to see mainframe environments that run Linux only. But with many mainframe sites today running both Linux and z/OS, Combs says this creates a management challenge that CA Technologies is trying to address.

Combs adds that this offering is the latest in a series of upgrades to its mainframe tool lineup that are all intended to make mainframes more accessible to the average IT administrator, thereby reducing the cost of labor associated with running a mainframe. That's obviously a good thing because for most sites to even consider running Linux on a mainframe, it needs to be done in a way that doesn't actually wind up increasing their total costs.

The rise of Linux on the mainframe has been over 10 years in the making now. But with the recent downturn, interest in Linux on the mainframe has accelerated to the point where Linux and z/OS now need to be managed as equal citizens.