Solaris is coming, Solaris is coming.....to System z
Wow....I felt the earth
shake just now....IBM and Sun have announced a live demo of Solaris on System z. Experts at Sine Nomine
– the same folks who were at the epicenter of the Linux on the mainframe
movement – have brought the two companies together and showcased the
possibilities at this week’s Gartner conference in Las Vegas.
Click here to see David
Boyes from Sine Nomine discuss the project from the Gartner event floor.
Amazing. But why are they
doing this? To make customers’ lives easier. One question I hear all the time
is: Is IBM trying to take over all computers? Does IBM believe that a mainframe
or a collection of mainframes can replace all the servers in a business? The
answer to that is simple: NO.
How do I know that? Because an IBM mainframe can never be
the sole computer in any business and the reason is, it doesn't have it's own
front end interface....well, maybe it does....the punch card
and the 3270 terminal.
But they really didn't take off the way IBM anticipated, so now you have ATM's,
Kiosks, Web browsers, cell phones, pda’s, PC's with 3270 emulators....a
cornucopia of front end devices as the human computer interface. In that
regard, IBM's mainframe has to work as a master collaborator to make sure that
it can interoperate with that wide range of front end processors and as such,
has had to augment the 3270 data stream with slick new XML and web services
built into it's systems.....but I digress....we are talking about Solaris on
the mainframe....is this to be a demonstration system, a proof of concept, or
an actual supported system?
It’s a demo today, but it's intended to be a supported
system – and it’s only a matter of time before we see it. We've learned already
that customers may desire open source computing on z/OS, zVM and Linux for System
z. They just aren't willing to service it themselves. Sure, they can download a
myriad of tools
from the internet, but they can't download a service contract. So they look
toward distributors or vendors to provide service for those offerings before
they'll put them into production. The same will be true of Solaris on System z.
On this lovely mainframe, we also realize that code development is
generally created on the desktop...an x86 platform and as such, typically
favors native operating systems as the deployment platform as well. Those
platforms are predominantly Windows, Linux and Solaris-based. But because of
openness and portability, Solaris and Linux can be deployed on multiple
hardware platforms now. Today, deployment of servers on the x86 platform has
been considered Scale Out
computing....just keep adding more and more server images, each dedicated to a
single operating system and typically a single application or data base server.
In many respects, these servers have the appearance of an appliance, because
they are "single" function devices. Those servers might satisfy the
needs of a lot of folks (e.g. clients), but typically excel at a single
In the last couple of years, it seems like the next new
thing is Virtualization
and server consolidation...the ability to host multiples of these
"appliances" in a single container and, in doing so, make the
operational environment more green - use less energy, cooling, floor space,
etc, but still meet businesses' service level agreements. Well, you'd think
that virtualization just got invented. Nope - it's been around for over 40
years, with IBM's zVM as the cream of the crop in systems virtualization. We've
already learned the power of virtualization when associated with Linux for System
z. There have been a large number of deployments and over 90% of those
deployments are on zVM. With Solaris on System z, 100% of the deployments will
be on zVM. That's because the operational environment will take advantage of
some of the native System z resource sharing and management tooling, in
addition to offering the opportunity to manage each Solaris image
The virtualization available on System z through zVM has a
number of distinct advantages over the Johnny-come-lately virtual servers on
other platforms - the ability to run at 90% and higher system utilization
without fear of failover for a very large number of operating system images;
the ability to add or remove capacity on System z by turning on or off
additional processors without suffering a service disruption and in doing so,
meet tactical business processing needs on demand; the ability to leverage
hardware and system memory to communicate between operating system images,
which in turn reduces the number of system intrusion points; the
compartmentalization of one operating system image from another one to provide
an additional layer of security; the ability to use zVM services across Solaris
system images for common auditing, disk and tape back up processing.
The net of this is, it's the same code that you might be
running on a different hardware architecture, but when executed within the zVM
hypervisor, inherits much of the operational superiority from that environment,
with no significant additional cost. And then there is the hardware benefits of
the System z architecture...it had an OnStar
like call home capability and autonomic healing capability long before the blue
prints were written by GM or other server platforms. IBM's mainframe remote support
facility provides electronic diagnosis of system failures and with
redundant hardware built in, can switch over to the backup components and in
parallel "call home" to dispatch a customer engineer to correct the
problem. In the case of CPU failure, the z architecture will swap in a
processor, transparent to any operating system running on its hardware to
continue processing unabated. It's like changing the tire while the cars in
motion and calling ahead to have a new spare put in the trunk, again without
having the car stop.
Let's continue that automotive metaphor. The mainframe is
intended to be a super highway. There are folks that believe it's just a
parkway...allows only cars and it's not heavily traveled. Today's announcement
is just another occasion to demonstrate the super highway nature of the
mainframe. It enables all kinds of vehicles to travel on its roads and the
traffic is moving along very quickly. In fact, there are sensors in this
mainframe highway to detect bottlenecks and provide re-balancing workloads to
meet service goals, another value that Solaris on System z will be
able to take advantage of as well. But let's not forget, the interstate
highways are selective, they don't accept bicycles and pedestrians. There are
other roads, running at a slower pace for those folks to travel on. Yes,
they'll reach the same destinations, but it will take them a bit longer to get
there. So in that sense, the mainframe is not going to "take over
Solaris". There will be certain application and data serving workloads
that will more naturally appeal to a consolidated effort on a mainframe and
there will be other workloads that can continue to run independently on other
server hardware or for that matter be virtualized in an x86 environment, quite
possibly because they are stateless and don't need the resilience, security and
capacity management that a mainframe brings to the operational environment.
Linux on System z has been wildly successful in its ability
to consolidate workloads. Does Solaris present a "weakness" in the
force driving Linux ubiquity? No, quite the contrary. It's about flexibility
and choice. In many cases today, Linux is evolving as a server of choice in the
x86 world and collections of those servers can be easily consolidated to IBM
mainframes running Linux. But in some cases, a UNIX workload, like Solaris,
must first be ported over to Linux before it can take advantage of the
virtualization and scaling capabilities of the mainframe. In addition, some
operational tooling is different, so there might be a skills hit or a
procedural hit to make a change. Well, just as Linux is Linux, regardless of
where it's deployed, the same objective holds true for Solaris. Common code is
a re-compile vs a port and the objective is to enable the same operations
model, but offer some new capabilities, through zVM, that further reduce the
operational complexity of running many, many Solaris images on the same
So back to the celebration....there's a new choice coming to town, Solaris on z. The benefits of the Solaris operating system as many businesses have grown to enjoy on other architectures, with the benefits of the operations model and virtualization capabilities of IBM's System z mainframe and zVM. Long may they both prosper to give businesses the choices and flexibility they need to build global system deployments that meet their business governance, privacy, security and resilience needs in solving problems along with the myriad of other options available for them to deploy on this modern mainframe.
|by JimPorell||November 28, 2007 in Future |
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Why run Solaris, when a "modern" unix is still available for system z?
Posted by: Dr.T | Nov 29, 2007 6:22:35 PM
You should know better. It is z/VM® not zVM!
Linux on System z has now been available for nearly 8 years (well is was Linux on S/390 back then) and it took several of those years until we had a critical mass of software available. Today the primary usage of Linux on System z is with commercial software such as IBM WebSphere and Oracle DB. The future success of Solaris on System z will be very dependent on the availability of such commercial software. It remains to be seen if this will happen and how long it will take.
Posted by: Jim Elliott | Nov 30, 2007 5:44:16 PM
I've said it before ( http://cabbey-blog.blogspot.com/2007/05/so-wheres-benefit-from-test-plan.html ), and I'll say it again... Yes, System Z's virtualization technology is AWESOME, but if it's really all it's cracked up to be cost wise, where are the hosting providers selling it? If it's so good, you'd think just two hosting providers buying a good size Z box and having a price war would put most of these folks with their vmware and xen farms on Intel hardware out of business in a quarter. But where is even ONE hosting provider selling Linux on z/VM? I can find dozens offering Intel in a heartbeat.
Posted by: cabbey | Dec 5, 2007 1:50:43 AM
Very informative. Thank you for the information, it's much apreciated!
Posted by: C-Tec 800 Series Call System | May 14, 2010 10:52:25 AM
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