IBM Expects Linux Integration To Work For i Shops
October 13, 2014 Dan Burger
It’s been said before, but maybe the time for Linux and i integration is finally drawing near.
“We have a fundamental belief that you can’t survive in this new world of mobile, social, big data, and cloud without being able to integrate and interface into the system of record in a secure and scalable manner,” says Stephen Leonard, general manager of IBM Systems and Technology Group sales.
IBM, with its major investment in Linux, thinks Power Systems are the best answer for making that integration and interface not only more effective, but also more cost efficient based on the existing systems of record and the data crunching performance that is being built into its hardware and software.
The i operating system is well known for its stable and secure characteristics, which give it advantages over X86 boxes as a system of record. It also provides the capability to handle the additional workloads that are created by projects that bring in much greater amounts of data.
The big issue clients have as they are bringing on mobile platforms is how to get that backend integration to work effectively.
“We have a lot of banks in Asia, for instance, that are on the i platform,” Leonard told IT Jungle during the Enterprise2014 conference last week in Las Vegas. “They are seeing backend transactions going through the roof. People are checking on their accounts once a day rather than once a week or once a month. They are scanning checks, depositing them in their accounts, and expecting their balance to reflect that immediately. You can see there’s a lot of data transfer and transactional work that needs to be done to feed that data to mobile apps.”
Those banks are building front end integration pieces using Linux on Power and switching from Windows as the front-end integration points because they get better scalability and interoperability, Leonard says. With the right integration, it reinforces the value of the i platform and provides economy of scale.
Linux is open and provides a better opportunity than the proprietary world of Intel/Windows. That’s the message IBM expects to deliver to its IBM i customers. They’ve heard it before.
So what’s changed?
“Now we have Little Endian Linux (from SUSE Linux) support on Power and there is a much broader set of applications available,” Leonard says. “The big inhibitor has been the lack of Little Endian support. In the past, any application provider that was running Linux on Power would have to recompile their applications and write extensions to the apps to support it in the new environment. With Little Endian, if the app runs in any Linux or Intel platform it will run on Power. This levels the playing field. Previously it was expensive and time consuming for the ISVs. The client would make the decision to run the front end on Intel.”
IBM believes it has the Linux equation right this time around. Its earlier efforts involving Linux were primarily focused on the mainframe market, although that did not stop Big Blue from trying to sell IBM i customers on Linux. Linux been emphasized ever since the System i and System p convergence in 2008, and actually was important at the turn of the millennia on all platforms just as Sam Palmisano was becoming CEO. Its second billion dollar investment in Linux, which began in 2013, is Power focused, says Big Blue. Early indications, based on the data acceleration development, favor AIX orientation. IBM i customers are spectators during the early rounds of system of engagement integration innovations.
The innovation work comes with Power8 and the ecosystem built around OpenPower, which not only brings additional functionality to the Power platform around big data, but emphasizes the importance of keeping the system of engagement close to the system of record.
Leonard says the IBM i customers will benefit because of the “broader ecosystem of people in the marketplace innovating around the processor architecture. It will make the i OS more compelling because it advances handling data sets and performance along with integration with Linux applications.”