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Sun Bashes Linux on (IBM) Mainframes 519

Posted by michael
from the these-aren't-the-servers-you're-looking-for dept.
dagbrown writes: "An article linked from Sun's front page, entitled "Linux on the mainframe: Not a good idea" by Shahin Khan, Sun's chief competitive officer, has the interesting theory that Linux on mainframes makes no sense because, among other things, the VM/Linux combo isn't a very good match. What do the folks on Slashdot think?"
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Sun Bashes Linux on (IBM) Mainframes

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Like Solaris on pc
  • Maybe not, (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cardhore (216574)
    But free software on a mainframe isn't bad. Remeber, we also have such things as "FreeBSD", "OpenBSD"; also "NetBSD." Yes, they're new to me too.
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:48PM (#3054421)
    From a Linux advocates point of view, there isn't much difference between Sun and Microsoft. Don't be fooled by the saying "My enemy's enemy is my friend", because it doesn't apply here.

    Besides, Sun will attack IBM at any chance it gets.

    • Yes it does - as long as the tactics that made MS "our" "enemy" aren't shared by the enemies enemy.

      In other words, FUD is bad, even if it's pro-Linux or pro-BSD. Embrace and Extend into open source is debatable. Closed source isn't so much the enemy, imo, as the crap that a few companies have pulled with it.

      --
      Evan

    • by pmz (462998) on Friday February 22, 2002 @07:12PM (#3054908) Homepage
      I have thought hard about whether Linux was a real threat to Sun and whether Sun is a good thing for Linux.

      Well, I've come to the realization that Linux is not a threat to Sun. Instead, companies like Dell, HP, Compaq, and IBM are the real competition. What's the catch? They all compete on hardware implementations. They compete on prices and features. Would I still buy a Sun server with Linux? Yes, for the same reasons I prefer Sun servers with Solaris: the hardware has benefits beyond whatever OS happens to be running.

      Is Sun good for Linux? Yes, because Sun can provide an absolutely top-notch hardware platform on which to run Linux. All Linux needs are some hardware RAS support features and device drivers, which Sun is probably capable of providing, and better C-compilers for RISC architectures, which could be improvements to GCC or a port of Forte C to Linux.

      It is not Sun vs. Linux. I'm convinced of that. Rather, the Linux community should be asking "What can Sun do for us?" rather than "What does Sun have up its sleeve?" These same questions should be applied to all the first-class hardware vendors. The more hardware that Linux runs well on, the better it gets for Linux. It's win-win.

      What about Microsoft? Well, that's another war on another front over different principles. Sun is an ally in this war, unambiguously.
    • From a Linux advocates point of view, there isn't much difference between Sun and Microsoft.
      I'm not so sure about that. True, Sun would probably just as happily turn around and bash Linux if they thought that would profit them, but that's not all there is to it. A Solaris shop is probably more likely to support Linux at some point than a Windows shop is, it being a bit less of a switch. Also, it's in Linux suporters' best interest to support the underdog - the more of the market (especially the server market) that MS has, the more they'll control the underlying protocols. Keeping the market fragmented can help keep protocols open, which in turn benefits the underdogs.
  • I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Starship Trooper (523907) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:50PM (#3054425) Homepage Journal
    Running Linux on a mainframe doesn't change the fact that you must still maintain an expensive, proprietary system, defeating the whole purpose of introducing open standards like Linux.

    Running Linux on an IBM mainframe doesn't defeat the entire purpose of using open standards like Linux. You still get the man years of free testing, free software, interoperability, and speed. Or rather, IBM gets them. And by tying software you can't charge for to hardware you can, IBM will have come up with a business model for selling Linux systems for incredible sums of money. Quite an ingenious plan - selling Free Software.

    Sun's just pissed they didn't think of it first.
    • Re:I disagree (Score:3, Interesting)

      by meff (170550)
      True, Sun *isn't* too happy about IBM pushing the mainframes first.

      I am pretty sure, whatever kernel IBM chooses to use on their linux mainframes will be THOROUGHLY tested and rigerously tortured and beaten to death until they know exactly how it's going to act. There will probably be a guideline to read for do-it-yourself people on how to make the most stable kernel for the mainframe you have.

      Running linux on the mainframe has TONS of advantages, and they will become more pronounced as it gets more popular and more used.

      Sun, give me a break, we know you have a big mouth but scaring everyone doesn't work all the time.
    • Re:I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:31PM (#3054702) Homepage
      Running Linux on a mainframe doesn't change the fact that you must still maintain an expensive, proprietary system...

      As opposed to running on a Sun system, which lets you run on a ... oh wait a minute. Those alternatives from Sun are mostly expensive proprietary systems, too, aren't they?

      You still get the man years of free testing, free software, interoperability, and speed.

      You also get a system that lets you migrate from your existing Linux systems to the IBM system without having to learn the quirks of a different Unix variant. If you use a supported distribution, you don't even have to learn a new distro. And if/when you decide that IBM isn't where you want to be, you can switch to many other hardware platforms with nothing more than a recompile. Sounds like you still get the key freedoms that Free Software is supposed to provide.

    • Re:I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Skapare (16644) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:36PM (#3054724) Homepage

      Sun's pissed that they can't run multiple instances of an OS on their E15K systems. You might get Linux running on it, and Solaris is the champ OS on the big Sun machines ... but they are not virtual machine systems. IBM's hardware design lets them run multiple operating systems in parallel on one machine, and even dynamically share processor between them. And then with the VM operating system loaded, you can create multiple virtual machines and run Linux in each one. And VM is very efficient at that. I once ran 6 instances of VM inside itself, nested all the way down. Surely you've heard of the case where IBM tested running 41,000 instances of Linux under VM. It can do that, though that many seems rather pointless. It does let you partition off the resources so you can give each service function you need to run with its own virtual machine, and thus it's own Linux. And on the larger S/390 and zSeries machines, you can even run OS/390 (of MVS legacy) in those virtual machines, and mix/migrate between them all one a single mainframe piece of hardware.

      Now personally, I wouldn't do exactly that. That's an awfully big basket with an awful lot of eggs in it. IBM hardware is quite reliable, but not so reliable that you can depend on getting "five nines" on one single machine. Sometimes there are reasons to take the whole machine down. IBM comes from legacy enterprise worksystems and usually early morning Sunday can be scheduled for maintenance purposes. In these days of e-commerce, you don't have such luxury. If you want to be up all the time, you need redundancy, and that machine way back in the corner of the room where "all the servers are gone" isn't redundancy (virtual redundancy, maybe, but you need real redundancy). You need several machines.

      That said, there are pluses to IBM's approach as well. If you need to add another class of service, or partition users apart from each other because one needs to do stuff that needs root access? Give them their own Linux virtual machine.

      OTOH, well managed, rows and rows of racks with 40 1U servers in each one, running Linux or BSD or NT or W2K or whatever, can be just as effective, if not more so. You can put dual 1.X GHz CPUs in those 40 machines in one rack ... that's 80 CPUs. That's quite a lot. The IBM zSeries can certainly compete, as can the Sun E15K. But those are going to be physically big, and power hungry, machines, too. Take your pick. There's no simple best answer; certainly not for everyone. All this is about is marketing, anyway.

      • Sun's pissed that they can't run multiple instances of an OS on their E15K systems.
        They might disagree with you. I believe they call it "Dynamic System Domains [sun.com]". I don't think you can run multiple /different/ OSes on them, but I'd be really curious to know how many people care to do that IRL.
        • Partitioning != VM (Score:3, Informative)

          by ansible (9585)

          System partitioning isn't the same as IBM's VM technology.

          With your E15K, you're dividing up processors and memory between various partitions, each running an instance of the OS.

          IBM's running multiple OSs as virtual machines on the same system.

          With Sun, if partition A is really busy, and partition B is idle, you can't make use of those idle processors unless you re-allocate your partitions.

          With IBM, the processes in VM1 can use all the processors of the mainframe, unless VM2 also needs processing time.

          With either one, if one OS instance crashes, it shouldn't affect the other instances.

      • Re:I disagree (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phajek (147371)
        "Sun's pissed that they can't run multiple instances of an OS on their E15K systems. "

        Hello? You obviously have never used an E15K or even a E10K with *does* domains for over 5 years now. Want some companies who use this? Ebay for one done. And they would be crazy to use Linux on it.
    • Sun did think of it. They're pushing Linux like crazy, with machines starting as low as $1000 and great software support. The dozen Cobalt machines I admin attest to that. It's the reason why there's a sun released JVM for Linux, promoting it to the lofty standards of NT x86, NT alpha and Solaris, whereas us BSD and Mac users need to wait until Apple, IBM or the Kaffe boys to get off their humps.
  • And it was a serious pain in the ass. There were problems with the virtual machine suddenly giving up the ghost from underneath us, and we'd see Samba processes go wild for no reason whatsoever. We had load averages spike well into the hundreds, and it was like we were always scrambling to keep it running, as opposed to setting it up and just having it work. We used to tell the students that the machine had caught on fire and had (literally) fallen over. We were even thinking of doing up artwork.

    All those impressive demos where they have 32 hojillion instances of linux running on a mainframe are meaningless. Sure, you can do it, but it doesn't do anything. If you try actually working with the setup, you'll be rebooting your machine 10 times a day, and those mothers take forever to freakin' reboot.
    • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:16PM (#3054613) Journal
      And it was a seriously easy. There were never a problem with the virtual machine suddenly giving up the ghost from underneath us, and we'd never loose a Samba process for any reason whatsoever. We had load averages that were very normal, and it was like we were always scrambling to find new reasons to use it, as opposed to setting it up and just having forgetting about it. We used to tell the students that the machine was seriously hot, and it would never fall-over. We were even thinking of doing up artwork -- AND STARTING A RELIGION!


      All those impressive demos where they have 32 hojillion instances of linux running on a mainframe are so meaningfull. Sure, you can do without it, but it will do everything. If you try actually working with the setup, you never have to reboot your machine -- instead of doing it 10 times a day, and those other take forever to freakin' reboot.

      But who are you going to believe, ummm, me or ummmmm, that other guy.

      Sheesh.

    • We used to tell the students that the machine had caught on fire and had (literally) fallen over.

      I gotta hunt down and re-digitize the video that a set of students did back in 1992. At that time the UBC Computer Science GraFic lab had a stack of IBM RS-6000 computers running AIX (which I sometimes pronounced 'aches') which tended to crash far too often.

      For their animation lab one group's video was an RS6000 shaking, smoking and melting down into a grave with (computerized) flowers sticking out of it and a gravestone blinking 888 (which the 3-digit LED display would do after a general system panic)

      With later versions of AIX and some coddling from your's truely, I was able to make the IBMs a good bit more stable -- but never quite as rock-solid as the SGIs running IRIX -- and they never really outlived their reputation.

      Then, of course, there was the obligatory IBM PC... Let's just say it was really good for running Castle Wolfenstein (the original).

    • ...

      and those mothers take forever to freakin' reboot.
      Reboot? Do you mean IPL????
  • Like the man said, this sounds like the normal responce from sun, I'm sure Microsoft should have simular arguments for why MS is better. Unless we get a complete third party to analysis with no aligence to any OS. And maybe on that day pigs will fly.
  • by suso (153703) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:52PM (#3054438) Homepage Journal
    This may sound a bit odd, but it could be that the mud throwing that Sun is doing could end up being A Good Thing(tm) for all Un*xes just because it bring s more media attention to our community. Sun isn't directly saying that Linux sucks or that it's worse than NT or whatever, they are drawling attention to the use of Linux on mainframes of all things. So the drawn out fact that Linux is being used on Mainframes and being acknowledged by two major companies could result in good juju.
  • New title? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ded Bob (67043)
    Chief Competitive Officer? I have never heard this title before. Is it new?
    • by Andrewkov (140579)
      Yeah, his job is to sling FUD at the competition.
    • Possibly.

      For those not familiar with Terry Pratchett, that would be something like a 'spin doctor'.

      For those familiar with Terry Pratchett; that would presumably be Sun speak for 'head liar'. ;-)

      Every company should have one. Actually, come to think of it, every company probably does have one ;-)
    • by 2Bits (167227)
      Yeah, this is for people whom you don't know what to do with. You give them a nice title with no responsibility, until they figure out that they are useless and they leave. But some of them will never do.

      In our company, we have some many "chiefs", and not enough Indians. I'm working on a project, and I'm the only architect, system designer, programmer, QA, integration engineer. In another word, a one-man show. But I have to report weekly status to 5 chiefs, each one wants it in a different format.

      The 5 are:
      - Chief Technology Officer (boy, this is a high visibility project, even the CTO has to know the weekly status. This guy wants the status in MS Project format).
      - Chief Product Strategist (What the heck, the guy is responsible of another product, but I don't know why he wants the weekly status of my project. But he makes sure that the CEO knows that he MUST get the status every week, so I can't get the CEO (of the division, that is) off my back. This guy wants it in Excel format, as he has a lot of product matrices in Excel).
      - Chief Competitive Office (well, I never figured out his role, and will never figure out why he wants the status either. Ah, but he wants it in PowerPoint. He doesn't want to waste his time to recreate the information when he has to do presentation, does he?).
      - Chief Project Management Officer (he can't even keep up with other real projects, but he still run after me every week for this stupid pilot project/prototype. Another MS Project format guy.).
      - Chief Customer Service Officer (what the fuck, the project I'm working on is just a prototype, for god sake... This guy wants the status in his searchable database, so I just give him all files that I gave to the other 4 chiefs.)

      Life sucks sometimes.

  • Can't blame em... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iNiTiUM (315622) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:53PM (#3054451) Homepage
    For a company that is planning on dropping all support for x86 in the first place, does this really surprise you? as a sun tech myself i totally see there point. Especially when the mainframes they refer to require another proprietary OS to run on top Linux. The article makes some good points, but this is also standard sun marketing.

    Sun: A solution looking for a problem

    • Re:Can't blame em... (Score:4, Informative)

      by sxpert (139117) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:03PM (#3054541)

      ok, I have to answer this bull alltoguether

      I'm an IBM tech (not speaking for IBM, of course) and can tell all that the "proprietary Operating system" they are talking about is not really an OS, more like a virtual machine that handles all other oses. This virtual machine is n implementation of the S390 architecture that will handle several "virtual computers" at the same time by the use of multiple "virtual processors", each one used for a "virtual computer", with each having it's own PC, virtual memory handling and all.

  • Is this a suprise? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by re-Verse (121709)
    Microsoft says the same thing. Does this make it true? No

    If anything, this is a really good sign for the ever maturing linux operating system. Of Course sun would want to move people away from an open source, free operating system, over to their 'paid for' one. And if they can't do that by simply saing "don't use linux, use solaris", it makes a lot of sense for their marketers to simply say "don't use linux, its bad... and scary". It still cuts out a potential threat to them.

    I figure if IBM says that IBM is ready for linux, i will trust that a lot more than solaris saying IMB isn't ready for linux.

    Not that i have anything agasint sun, or solaris.. i respect sun and what its doen, and been through.. i just question the reasoning for this 'article'.
  • You know, like this [satirewire.com].
  • by ChrisRijk (1818) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:56PM (#3054474)
    Just a little FYI:

    With Amdahl checking out of the mainframe business it seems IBM has decided to raise mainframe prices significantly - it's actually charged more for the same performance in 2001 than in 2000! This is why IBM's mainframe revenues increased by a fair bit between 2000 and 2001 (while it's PC and Unix revenue dropped). Mainframe revenue accounts for about half of IBM's total server revenue...
  • CCO? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by selan (234261) on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:57PM (#3054483) Journal
    I'm not sure what to think about the fact that Sun has a "Chief Competitive Officer." Please tell me that there's more to the guy's job than spreading FUD about the competition.
    • Re:CCO? (Score:2, Funny)

      by pnatural (59329)
      Next he'll be telling us that Sun(tm) Java(tm) is a fully Object-Oriented Systems Language, Sun(tm) J2EE(tm) is a Standard, and that they, Sun(tm), do not ignore the Sun(tm) Java Community Process(tm).
    • The purpose of the CCO is to blame Microsoft for having a Chief Competitive Officer, regardless of whether or not they actually have one.

      Remember, everyone is innocent but a certain Gates; thus it matters not what one does, as long as he is else.
  • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon&gmail,com> on Friday February 22, 2002 @05:57PM (#3054485) Homepage
    This article is misrepresented as bashing Linux. It doesn't say that Linux isn't up to the job of running on a mainframe as much as it says that many of the benefits Linux offers are lost when running it on such a system -- basically bashing IBM's solution, not Linux.

    Finding mainframe staffing is an obstacle in many organizations(6); combining mainframe and Linux staffing further complicates the matter. Running multiple Linux images still requires administration that needs to grow with the number of images being run.

    This statement applies no matter what operating system you choose, you still have to find people who know the hardware. And as with all VM systems, you have to actively administrate each image. This statement is Linux agnostic.

    Although z/VM can start and stop Linux images, it cannot dynamically add resources to match demand. As a result, a mainframe would need to size for peak demand just as the Linux farm would; high utilization is a myth.

    Again.. Linux isn't repsonsible for the machine not being able to dynamically allocate resources to over-utilized images, it's a hardware/underlying OS issue.

    Applications that run on Linux for Intel need to be recompiled and recertified for each new platform; thus the application portfolio to run Linux on a mainframe is small

    Duh. It's a different architecture.

    So, SUN isn't really bashing Linux, they're bashing their competitor, IBM. No real news here. SUN is very careful not to say "Linux sucks", because they have Linux offerings, they're just saying that customers should buy the SUN/Solaris solution for their high-end systems, not the IBM/Linux solution. I'm sure we'll see something from IBM soon.

    --XaXXon

    • by sxpert (139117) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:07PM (#3054554)

      Although z/VM can start and stop Linux images, it cannot dynamically add resources to match demand. As a result, a mainframe would need to size for peak demand just as the Linux farm would; high utilization is a myth.


      This is total bullshit, check the IBM RedBooks on z/VM

  • FUDnews.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by josepha48 (13953) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:01PM (#3054530) Journal
    This sounds like FUD news.. actually it sounds like something Microsoft would spread. I guess Sun see Linux as competition. The question then becomes which is really more powerful on a cost basis: Linux/MF or Sun/Solaris. Now one would have to look at the actual cost of the MF running Linux and how it performs vs a Sun comparaible hardware running Solaris 8-9 or whatever. Yes Sun does have MF sized servers.

    Next thing to do would be to ask someone that recently switched to linux on the mainframe, like ebay... hope one of the links below still works...

    http://www.cio.com/archive/010101_et_content.htm l

    http://abcnews.go.com/sections/tech/DailyNews/ib ml inux000517.html

    http://www.zdnetindia.com/biztech/resources/ebusin ess/ecommerce/stories/45234.html

  • Makes sense to me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NitsujTPU (19263)
    People these days seem to forget about the overhead of interpretters and virtual machines. If the article is correct, then the z800's running zVM emulate Intel x86 architecture in order to run Linux. Heck, even poorly written native compiled code generally has advantages over such a set up.

    There are however, notable exceptions, given the nature of mainframe processors, if all of your apps are written unoptimized for such a system, then you would want to unify them in a familiar abstraction, given a close enough match, this makes Linux a natural choice. Of course, why would you buy an expensive mainframe and not optimize for it?

    To the naysayers slamming Sun as merely trying to boost SunOS, well, yeah, they are, but lets look at the situation.

    1) Sun still has SunFire servers, which are QUITE powerful.
    2) Solaris is no longer competing with HP-UX, since HP-UX is no more. Sun sells windows and linux based solutions. In other words, Sun has no reason to just blindly nay-say against Linux. As far as exploiting Linux for being a hot technology, well, they're doing that too. That's business for you, you gotta do what you gotta do.

    In otherwords, the z800 isn't exactly slaughtering Sun's business, but you gotta have whitepapers to back up your statements when you're bidding to large customers. Saying "just cuz" isn't good enough. Sun's scoring one for the people who want to buy their products. It's not "slamming linux."
    • Re:Makes sense to me (Score:2, Informative)

      by Steveftoth (78419)
      Do you even know what kind of VM IBM is talking about when they talk about their zSeries?
      I'll use tech that you are probably familar with. It's exactly like VMWARE for windows/linux. Except that the zSeries OS that runs the virtual machines runs at a much lower level then the VMWARE program and the HW is optimized for the execution of VMs. Unlike the x86 on x86 emulator that VMWARE does, the zSeries boxes run their VM's very fast. All the code that is executed runs native to the processors in the box, you have to recompile everything to run on them.
      see this url for more facts on IBM's stuff. I'm not saying it's the answer, but this paper from SUN is FUD.
      http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/eserver/zseries /os/li nux/facts.html
    • by Blrfl (46596)
      NitsujTPU writes:

      If the article is correct, then the z800's running zVM emulate Intel x86 architecture in order to run Linux. Heck, even poorly written native compiled code generally has advantages over such a set up.

      That's not what IBM is doing at all. The version of Linux that runs on the 390 platform is natively compiled for that system and has been tuned to work with it. This is no different than Linux on any of the dozen or so other platforms it's been designed to run on.

      Sun's FUD-slinger got his facts wrong more than half the time in that article, which in most places would get him grade of "F". I've been using and buying Suns for 16 years, and while I really like their products, I hope IBM takes every opportunity to point out what a nitwit he is.

      The moral: Just 'cause it says "Linux" on the label doesn't mean it's running on an x86.

    • by Noel (1451) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:46PM (#3054779)
      People these days seem to forget about the overhead of interpretters and virtual machines. If the article is correct, then the z800's running zVM emulate Intel x86 architecture in order to run Linux.

      Sorry, but z/VM has nothing to do with emulation. z/VM is a low-level system that simply (or not so simply ;-) virtualizes the hardware by providing one or more virtual machines, each of which can run any native OS. As far as the client OS knows, it's running on the bare hardware. The z/VM layer provides the ability to flexibly divide the hardware resources between the VMs, and guarantees that each VM is completely isolated from all other VMs. In the case of Linux/390, the Linux kernel and applications have been compiled to run natively on the S/390 architecture. Check out this Linux for S/390 FAQ [marist.edu] for more info.

    • If the article is correct, then the z800's running zVM emulate Intel x86 architecture in order to run Linux.

      No, you misunderstood. The VM doesn't emulate an x86, it emulates lots of smaller mainframes on one big mainframe. Like a beowulf cluster in one box. Emulating an x86 would be silly and slow.

    • Sun sells windows and linux based solutions

      Minor nitpicking; AFAIK Sun does NOT sell Windows-based solutions. The only thing related to Windows Sun sells are certain software packages (Forte, StarOffice) that have Windows-version available along with Solaris and Linux-versions. Sun's products can certainly be integrated with Windows systems etc, but Sun doesn't sell such systems.

  • by ciurana (2603) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:02PM (#3054534) Homepage Journal

    I agree mostly with the article because I recently evaluated an IBM mainframe against an AIX SP2 and a Solaris 4-processor server. Most of the issues in the article, particularly performance, are right on.

    The application we were testing was extremely processor and memory intensive. While there was a web component, the biggest problem was moving a large number of bitmaps in one format into the server, convert them from base 64 to a binary representation, rasterize them, and convert them to a "browser friendly" format such as JPEG, GIF, or PNG. We had to complete hundreds (> 200) of these operations per second.

    I really wanted to use Linux because most of my staff is familiar with it and our customer felt warm and fuzzy about using IBM equipment. At the end of the day, however, the Linux mainframe only gave us 25% of the minimum speed that we needed for our process to be successful. IBM and a certain German Linux company tweaked everything they could but the performance wasn't there. The AIX vs. Solaris match was more evenly paired. My customer decided on Solaris because they offered a few advantages in Java tools that AIX didn't have. All vendor's boxes had equivalent processor and memory configurations.

    I would like to spread the Linux credo as far and wide as possible. What we must understand is that, in order to make Linux a viable option in mission-critical applications (the kind of thing sitting on a mainframe), the performance and "hardening" of something like MVS must be present. Linux just isn't there yet.

    Disclaimer: I'm under NDA so that's why some aspects of this posting are a bit vague. Drop me an email if you want more details regarding our experience but our conversation will be "off the record."

    Have a nice wknd,

    E
    • You are talking about a different deployment than the one that is being attacked in the Sun article. What the latter is discussing are multiple images of Linux being hosted on top of a VM.

      There is no reason why you should have been doing that in your case: you should have dispensed with the VM layer and just used Linux "native".

      Basically the article is Sun bashing (perhaps righlty or wrongly, I don't know) the concept of "server farm in a box", which is completely different from your task!

      • Isn't Sun offering "server fram in a box" (aka partitioning) for their high-end systems as well?
      • crush wrote:

        What the latter is discussing are multiple images of Linux being hosted on top of a VM.

        We tested running Linux in native mode and on top of VM on the z90. It was s-l-o-w anyway. By extension, running it in a VM partition would've made it slower.

        My point is not to bash Linux; I like using it (and use it exclusively for 99% of my work, from notebooks to servers), but Linux just isn't ready for mission-critical applications running on mainframes. Sun is a lot closer to that goal.

        For mission-critical stuff on mainframes, the kind of apps where you put your career on the line, MVS is still the way to go. Being a Linux chauvinist doesn't improve its performance or reliability on z90 hardware. I don't doubt it will get there; it just hasn't quite arrived yet.

        Cheers,

        E
        • OK, I get your point. I wasn't accusing you of doing any bashing mate! I just thought that you were saying that you had tested in the exact situation that Khan is describing: VM hosting as opposed to LPARs. I've used LPAR'ed Red Hat on S/390 for FP number crunching and found it to be great. But, I didn't do extensive testing or comparisons with Enterprise boxes.
    • The IBM architectures you decided on are exotic compared to the Sun Quad SMP box and don't sound like you benchmarked the appropriate tools, or even like against like.

      Mainframe: I/O throughput, *massive* loads.
      SP: *parallel* clusters, CPU, *fast* network.

      You'd have been better with an S80... Sorry, "pSeries".
    • Contrary to what most people believe, you don't buy an IBM mainframe for CPU performance, rather, you buy it because of the I/O performance.


      That's what makes them expensive (well, that and the reliability).

  • by Duderstadt (549997) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:05PM (#3054544)
    As the infamous Halloween Documents stated, Linux is primarily a threat to proprietary *NIX setups.


    Now, Sun offers up the ultimate proof: Linux is just fine as long as it impacts the x86 world - but don't dare put it on a platform that affects us.


    To be fair, IBM's offering is not perfect - yet. What Sun is preparing for is a future Linux and Big Iron combo that will be. They are afraid, and this FUD is the proof.

  • Pure crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swagr (244747) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:05PM (#3054549) Homepage
    And Linux isn't designed to run in a virtual machine; implementation decisions that make sense on PC hardware don't fit well in a virtual machine(4). This is Linux. It's designed for Intel. It's not tuned for the mainframe hardware in which it's running.
    • Contradiction: If it's running on the VM, why should it be tuned for the hardware??? Shouldn't the VM worry about hardware tuning?
    • Does he know that the low level stuff in linux/arch was written at IBM, not some open source hacker?
    • Does he know that Linus' point in making the kernel more modular is so that it's NOT designed for intel???

  • They keep shooting themselves in the foot wrt the Open Source crowd. Now the've reloaded and started shooting again. You'd think they would have run out of ammo by now.

    One of the beauties of Linux is that it can be ported to so many different platforms easily. Sun uses it and then goes on to say IBM shouldn't? wtf? There are valid reasons to run Linux in multiple virtual machines. I even do it here on my PC.

    Note to self: Must drink less coffee....
  • Wasn't there a story not too long ago that mentioned how Sun was going to support Linux on lower-end machines, but NOT on the high-end Enterprise [sun.com] systems? (bah, I can't find the link) Anyway, people were saying "Well, Linux isn't ready for Enterprise-type systems yet, so keeping the proprietary *nices on these systems isn't a big deal."

    Now, Sun comes right out and says this, and people start complaining? Sure, perhaps Sun is trolling for /. Yeah, right.

    You may think I'm biased: I work for Sun, after all. Don't get me wrong - I'd absolutely *love* to take one of the *THIRTY* E10k's I have sitting around me at the moment and install Linux on it. Or, rather - I'd love to TRY. But I don't have any real notion that any version of Linux, AS IT STANDS RIGHT NOW, will work as well as Solaris on that box.

    Sure, Solaris isn't very user-friendly. GNU/Solaris (Solaris with GNU Tools) is better, but still not anywhere near what most Linux folks are used to when it comes to command-line fun. However, Solaris is *made* to work with Sun hardware. And it does, very well.

    I doubt it highly that someone is going to go buy a US$4M E10k/E15k box and start porting Solaris tools and system utilities *just* so people can run Linux on those systems. Right now, the only reason people have installed Linux at ALL on those systems is for bragging rights.

    If you want to outlay the cash and start-a-porting, I applaud you. I really do. But I won't hold my breath.
  • There's an article here on cnet [com.com] news that explains the whole thing. They don't want you to go after the much more powerful and robust linux system that IBM has and go for their version of Linux for smaller systems. The alarming thing is that they are producing their OWN version of Linux, not using Redhat or another company. And also IBM I understand is doing this too. This can't be a good thing for linux at all. Proprietary versions of linux? Or perhaps some people think it'd be okay if its just branded, I just don't think its a good idea at all.
    I think they want to utilize the benefits of linux however they do not want to allow Linux to creep into the larger servers where Sun dominates. And IBM which has AIX 5L (AIX w/linux compatibility) and now a special Linux for the mainframe it directly challenges their most valuable property, solaris which is valuable because all that software is made for it which makes people buy sun systems.
    You find the program you need to run and then look at the systems running it, and unless you're already running AIX or HP-UX your first choice is probably Sun (and sun is usually always a choice). Now Linux comes in, becomes this pervasive server software and Solaris doesn't really look as hot as it did anymore.
  • FUD. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jay (1991)
    He basically has 1 valid point. Linux under VM is not as well behaved as it should be, for exactly the reason mentioned. Coming from the PC world where all hardware is real, it treats all memory as if there isn't anything else better to do that use it all for file buffers. Under VM, a better plan is to check to see if there is any memory pressure being exerted on the machine before using your entire memory allocation for buffering.

    They're working on that.

    As for the rest, it's mostly FUD. The endian-ness is not an issue for 95% (wild ass guess) of apps that I have seen. Maybe except for DB2. You have to plan your maximum capacity in a discrete server farm just like you do in a virtual one. You also get capacity upgrade on demand with a phone call with the IBM hardware. They dont even have to send out a CE to do anything. Let's see SUN do that.

    You wouldn't want to use it as a compute farm, but as a database server or news server or something which is usually I/O bound. They ain't exactly ferraris, more like 18 wheeler big rigs.

  • Design (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trillian_Angel (542729) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:22PM (#3054648) Homepage
    As far as I know, Linux wasn't really designed to be a mainframe anyway... so whats the big deal really? Linux is a web server/ server system, great for apache and the likes, stable and a life saver for small companies. So Sun has the better equipment and software for mainframe. IF linux had been designed to do that then there would be a real contraversy in the situation anyway. Its an interesting article with lots of good points, but its like comparing tomatoes and oranges.
  • Goes to show... (Score:3, Informative)

    by clump (60191) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:26PM (#3054667)
    Linux isn't designed to run in a virtual machine;

    Linux isn't designed at all, which is good. Thats why its so flexible. There was already that debate [slashdot.org] a while back.
    Applications that run on Linux for Intel need to be recompiled and recertified for each new platform; thus the application portfolio to run Linux on a mainframe is small(9).

    Oh please. Like your going to have an easier time compiling non-Linux software? Still think so given how open and portable most Linux software is? Is mainframe software as portable? Is there lots of free mainframe software to port? Thats almost as irrational as Microsoft's "Linux isn't free" TCO argument. Per that can-of-worms, because both systems have TCOs means NT itself *is* free?

    Articles like this are interesting because Sun definitly has a conflict of interest with Linux. They need to appear as if they support it so new blood will buy SPARC hardware with Solaris, but they also don't want people 'liking' Linux over Solaris/SPARC.

    Personally, I love Linux on SPARC. I would prefer Sun making Linux more 'Enterprise'-like instead of hawking Solaris as a big-brother. However, I understand that Solaris is a huge investment and one they probably will think is superior for years to come.

    For their sake, I hope the Penguins don't squish them. But if they don't look both ways before crossing the street...

  • "What do the folks on Slashdot think?"

    This is easy: anything posted on /. that has to do with Linux or Windowz will give you tones and tones of posting.
  • by Dammital (220641) on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:42PM (#3054752)
    Yeah, you know the answer to that one, don't you?

    This piece was so full of FUD that I could scarcely believe it.

    z/VM is a niche operating system with virtual machine (VM) support for new hardware features added late or often not at all(3)

    Then why did IBM have to port the TCPIP stack from the VM world into MVS, if VM is so far behind?
    This is Linux. It's designed for Intel. It's not tuned for [S/390].

    Linux is "designed for Intel"??? What about M68K, PPC, ARM, Alpha, SPARC and others? (See the Debian ports page [debian.org] for a more complete list.)
    The "legendary" IBM S/390 [reliability] IBM references are the result of decades of development work on IBM's flagship mainframe operating system, known today as z/OS.

    Yes, MVS (z/OS) is rock solid reliable. But the machines don't bust either. CPU recovery has been an integral part of the architecture for almost 30 years. If a processor breaks, another takes over with no application effect, or a spare is assigned. Someone on the ibm-main list today mentioned that the processors are themselves duplicated on chip, with comparison logic to ensure that both sides are computing the same thing. Does Intel even parity-check their processors?
    thus the application portfolio to run Linux on a mainframe is small

    Small? Install a copy of SuSE SLES in a S/390 LPAR (logical partition, a hardware implementation of VM that is delivered on EVERY S/390... no z/VM necessary) and see how much software was delivered with it. You wanted OpenSSH and OpenSSL, though SuSE didn't deliver it? Go to the web, download it, and do configure, make, make install. The big problem with application portability is the proprietary vendors that ship binaries only.
    the difference in Intel versus mainframe applications [WRT endian-ness] makes porting difficult

    What an amazing assertion. Wish Khan had provided a reference.
    Why put an open operating system such as Linux on a closed proprietary mainframe?

    Merde. Why run it on a closed proprietary SPARCstation? Or a closed proprietary Mac?

    Khan makes a couple of decent points, particularly regarding z/VM skills. But the hyperbole is way out there, and it's hard to take him seriously.

  • I fondly remember VM as the first operating system I ran into that embodied a really good idea.

    There was a stage during the '80s when I was working more as an industry analyst than as a developer when Sun and IBM between them had become two of the then only four serious pillars on which the future of computing rested at a conceptual level.

    At that level, Sun was the embodiment of Unix, taking evnagelical responsibility for the cause, and it is reasonable to assume that within their own envorins they genuinely see themselves in that position still.

    From my own biased perspective, I felt they abdicated that authority when they allowed their elegant Network-extensible Window System (NeWS) to be rolled by a tide of industry resistance that mobilised against the upstart Sun and behind the then clearly inferior X.

    But I'm sure in Sun's hearts they still believe they are the ultimate repository of deep understanding on all things Unix and are being genuine and honest in the technical basis for this critique.

    The real problem is thay they can't see beyond their own world view. They do not have places in their heart for deep understanding of either the VM nor the Linux view or the world, let alone the two in combination.

    Still Sun struggles to find its own identity and focus, to say nothing of a sustainable business model for the future.

    From NFS to RISC, to industrial strength Web servers and on to Java, Sun has been a major contributor to the direction of mainstream computing, but now seems to be edging closer to following the fall to oblivion of that other former pillar of hearts and minds, Digital.

    It will be a worse than sad day when we finally have to convey Sun to history, especially if that comes before Java gets to really stand on its own feet.

  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday February 22, 2002 @06:49PM (#3054794) Journal

    There is a lot of activity around Linux in the marketplace today. Strategies differ from vendor to vendor, and there are a variety of ways companies are experimenting with, evaluating, and deploying Linux in their IT infrastructures. Just like any technology decision, if and where to deploy Linux is a substantial decision which involves matching the right technology to the right business problem.

    READ: Of course, with an infinite amount of money, every business problem is solvable at the highest profit for the problem-solver...

    Just as it is important to understand when technology can provide you with an advantage, it is equally valuable to know when a technology is not suited to a particular task regardless of how 'hot' that technology might be. Sun does see a place for Linux in the IT infrastructure, as evidenced by our recent announcement to ship Linux-based servers. Sun introduced low-priced, horizontal Linux servers as an alternative to proprietary systems. Suited for Web delivery at the edge of the network, Linux servers offer an alternative to proprietary and closed environments such as Microsoft Windows.

    READ: But Sun is of the opinion that it's proprietary servers, running with proprietary hardware (such as the special disk drives with the "magic" secret partition table, and the memory chips with the notch moved 1/10 inch) and, of course, running proprietary Solaris Operating System is the best solution overall, especially if you have an infinite amount of money to throw at YOUR problem...

    Recently, IBM announced a new 'Linux-only' mainframe, the z800, which IBM is promoting as a way to consolidate multiple Linux and Unix[r] servers(1). Running Linux on a mainframe doesn't change the fact that you must still maintain an expensive, proprietary system, defeating the whole purpose of introducing open standards like Linux. Although it's technically possible to configure such a system, the question remains, "How well-suited is the system to the task?"

    READ: Definitely, here, we have a blatant attempt at fitting an hexagonal peg into a pentagonal hole. Linux was conceived to run on discarded low-end hardware in order to satisfy teenage-geek impulses, which is quite a different thing than to run on the Big Iron dinosaurs IBM is well-known for.

    Linux on the mainframe just doesn't compute. Here's why:

    READ: You just can't run JCL and CICS and MVS and CMS and Assembler on Linux. Cobol (even GNU-Cobol) will make the kernel break into hysterics.

    Linux on the mainframe is actually hosted by another proprietary operating system, z/VM. The optimized operating system for IBM mainframes is z/OS, formerly called MVS(2). Compared to z/OS, z/VM is a niche operating system with virtual machine (VM) support for new hardware features added late or often not at all(3). And Linux isn't designed to run in a virtual machine; implementation decisions that make sense on PC hardware don't fit well in a virtual machine(4). This is Linux. It's designed for Intel. It's not tuned for the mainframe hardware in which it's running.

    READ: On the other hand, Solaris is designed to run (well) solely on Sparc architecture that made Sun famous.

    Linux on the mainframe is complicated; this isn't Linux running on a two-way Intel server. Despite IBM's claims of easy management(5), customers still need a special machine room and specially trained staff for both z/VM and Linux. Finding mainframe staffing is an obstacle in many organizations(6); combining mainframe and Linux staffing further complicates the matter. Running multiple Linux images still requires administration that needs to grow with the number of images being run.

    READ: Of course, you don't have any of those virtual machine nonsense with Sun products: you simply plug in as many boxes as you need of machines. No more software headaches for your operators!!!

    Linux on the mainframe can't respond to the workload demands of Web serving with high utilization--something IBM touted at the time of its z800 announcement. Horizontally scaled Linux farms are designed to handle unpredictable demand with above average peak loads. As demand rises, a load balancer distributes the traffic evenly across servers, which increases utilization. Because design capacity needs to handle peak demand, server farms often have a low utilization.

    READ: Why do in software what can be done far more profitably (and piracy-immune!) in juicy, expensi^h^h^h^h^h^h^h profitable hardware?

    Given the relatively low cost of hardware, some organizations find this trade-off acceptable to ensure appropriate service levels. Contrary to what many believe, consolidating a Linux farm into multiple images on a mainframe would not change the demand pattern. Although z/VM can start and stop Linux images, it cannot dynamically add resources to match demand. As a result, a mainframe would need to size for peak demand just as the Linux farm would; high utilization is a myth.

    READ: Of course, you can dynamically add and remove ressources from a Sun cluster with the use of specially trained monkeys and servoids, which is a better proposition than software hocus-pocusery within the deep, dark bowels of an IBM mainframe.

    It's neither fish nor fowl. Linux on the "mainframe" is not an open system, and there is little incremental RAS benefit. Although IBM claims "zSeries servers inherit the legendary IBM S/390 strengths in the areas of fault avoidance and tolerance, recovery from failures, and concurrent maintenance and repair for "always-on" availability"(7). We don't believe this to be true for zSeries servers running Linux. The "legendary" IBM S/390 strengths IBM references are the result of decades of development work on IBM's flagship mainframe operating system, known today as z/OS. The fault recovery features of z/OS are not found in Linux. z/VM does have some fault recovery features, but it is not nearly as resilient as z/OS. For example, z/VM cannot take advantage of Parallel Sysplex clustering, and VM hypervisor is an added single point of failure(8).

    READ: Of course, Sun cannot take advantage of Parallel Sysplex clustering either, but that's more alphabet soup to muddy the waters and instill doubts into potential buyers.

    Applications that run on Linux for Intel need to be recompiled and recertified for each new platform; thus the application portfolio to run Linux on a mainframe is small(9). Consolidation without application availability just can't happen--and if the applications don't run on your platform, or if there are costly ports and changes to be made, cost savings can't be realized. Often the difference in Intel versus mainframe applications makes porting difficult(10). Additionally, different applications are ported to different distributions of Linux (for example, Red Hat, SuSE, and Turbolinux). Getting applications to run on the mainframe might require supporting multiple distributions of the 'same' Linux operating system.

    READ: Again, Linux fragmentation is a terrible tragedy that will never happen to Solaris.

    The economics just don't work. IBM claims it is financially justifiable to consolidate as few as 20 Linux servers on a z800(11). With an estimated starting price of $400,000 for a z800(12) with a single CPU engine enabled, that claim seems exaggerated compared to Linux servers that hover in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. Sun's rack-optimized 1U form factor servers start at list prices under $1,000. When customers realize Linux on mainframe utilization will be low, and administration costs have still not been factored in, you can begin to see how the costs will add up. And let's not forget the support costs that will need to be purchased, either from the distributor or IBM Global Services. One example of a distributor's cost on an IBM Multiprise ran in the tens of thousands for the initial services and thousands a month for ongoing service(13).

    READ: Even if " nobody ever got fired for buying IBM ", we whish the same could be said about Sun.

    Thus, when considering consolidation projects, why consider putting workloads onto a completely different and more expensive architecture? Why put an open operating system such as Linux on a closed proprietary mainframe? Why consolidate on a system with limited application support and one that demands a rare combination of skills?

    READ: IBM is double-plus uncool amongst geeks. SUN is the hip thing to use in IT!!!

  • by x mani x (21412) <mghase AT cs DOT mcgill DOT ca> on Friday February 22, 2002 @07:14PM (#3054922) Homepage
    Read between the lines, this article is mostly anti-IBM FUD. It was written by Sun, so I'm not exactly surprised.

    And Linux isn't designed to run in a virtual machine; implementation decisions that make sense on PC hardware don't fit well in a virtual machine(4). This is Linux. It's designed for Intel. It's not tuned for the mainframe hardware in which it's running.

    First, let's check what his "(4)" reference points to:

    (4) For example: Filling all available RAM with file buffers is great in a real machine (as it speeds I/O via caching with otherwise-wasted storage), but in a virtual machine doing that is bad (as it inflates the working set of the Linux guest, which is competing for real storage with many other Linuxes-leading to paging/swapping).

    Uhh, I have never seen a VM implementation that did not give a RAM limit. So this guy is basically saying that a memory leak on one of your VM's will take down the entire mainframe. Somehow I doubt IBM's mainframe R&D staff would do this ... unless IBM mainframe R&D is actually a computer camp for children with down syndrome.

    Often the difference in Intel versus mainframe applications makes porting difficult(10)

    (10) Intel uses something known as little endian; a mainframe uses something different. This is significant for certain applications and makes the port difficult.


    I challenge anyone out there to name any significant piece of UNIX software that doesn't have a big-endian port ... uhh basically they don't exist, because many of the commercial UNIX systems out there exist on top of big-endian hardware.

    Just the way he phrased that last bit about endianness convinces me that this guy doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. I can't really know for sure though, since most of the stuff he talks about is beyond me. But, based on those few things he mentions that I'm familiar with, I'd say he's a typical manager who is loosely and incorrectly paraphrasing what some Enterprise developer told him, and decided to make a marketing advantage out of it.

    Read between the lines!!
  • IBM is doing well. And I think IBM has smart customers who can figure out whether buying a machine for several million dollars running virtualized Linux makes sense or not.

    Sun should rather worry about their own licensing issues and their own problems with open source. Java's broken community licensing program and Sun's inability to evolve the platform more quickly has basically killed Java for open source applications (that's why Mono is being written around .NET, even though .NET is much less mature and comes from Microsoft). Sun keeps equivocating on Solaris, Linux, and which one is better in their not-so-humble opinion.

    Sun should address their own issues before putting down IBM. I'm sure ten years from now, IBM is still going to be around. I'm not so sure I believe the same thing about Sun.

  • What do the folks on Slashdot think?

    Well, I can't speak for others, but I think sun sells a competative UNIX on mainframe solution.
  • by frozenray (308282) on Friday February 22, 2002 @07:26PM (#3055014)
    ...there are other factors than performance, indulge me for a moment:

    I work at a big corporation which relied on IBM mainframes for its whole business for almost 30 years until the PC and the high-end Unix servers shook up the landscape for good. I'm from the PC (IT) camp, which has been separate from the Big Iron (DP) guys in the organization since the early days.

    DP, once very powerful, has lost a great deal of influence in the 90s, although they still run most of the mission-critical stuff, and the main reason for this were the high-end Unix servers, most of them Sun boxen running Oracle. Believe me, there's no love lost between those two fractions in our company.

    Our mainframe guys see Linux as an opportunity to get better integration with the IT world, which was abysmal until now (3270 terminal windows, IMS/DB, TSO/ISPF and such horrors) and to better position themselves against the Sun/Oracle camp which is after their budgets and their butts. Today, we have Linux happily running on our mainframes (still in an experimental phase, not in production), serving up http and Samba shares without a hiccup.

    If we're talking about bringing Linux into the large corporations, the crucial influence of IBM cannot be overestimated. We were a died-in-the wool IBM shop (S/390, Token Ring, 3270PC, OS/2, S/36, AS/400, the whole enchilada) and successfully trusted our business to IBM for 30 years (paid through our nose for it, too, I might add). IBM has lots of credibility and trust, so if they say Linux is cool, our CTO listens. Microsoft, on the other hand, is viewed with some "new kid on the block" suspicion. Our management doesn't like downtime and security breaches, and the memory of the ILOVEYOU aftermath is still very vivid, for example. Plus, we migrated to NT4 late (about 28'000 systems, ended September 99) and now Microsoft is practically forcing us into another expensive upgrade cycle sooner than we wanted and with IT budgets cut short on account of the less-than-stellar economy because NT4 support is withdrawn in 2003.

    We thus have the following situation: IT and DP are up against the Unix enterprise server guys, all this with the backing of IBM. The astronomically high cost of Sun/Oracle solutions is being questioned more and more, and technologically viable low-end solutions (x86 multiprocessor servers, Linux) begin to rattle the foundations from below.

    I don't want to make bold predictions here, but if I were Sun, I'd be worried. To me, it looks like interesting times are ahead.
  • by jms (11418) on Friday February 22, 2002 @07:30PM (#3055032)
    Linux on the mainframe can't respond to the workload demands of Web serving with high utilization--something IBM touted at the time of its z800 announcement. Horizontally scaled Linux farms are designed to handle unpredictable demand with above average peak loads. As demand rises, a load balancer distributes the traffic evenly across servers, which increases utilization. Because design capacity needs to handle peak demand, server farms often have a low utilization.

    If you have a VM system with two virtual machines, and one of them is nearly idle, and the other virtual machine is very busy, VM will automatically take resources away from the less busy machine and devote it to the more busy machine.

    This means that you don't need load-balancing software. VM is the load-balancing software.

    Given the relatively low cost of hardware, some organizations find this trade-off acceptable to ensure appropriate service levels. Contrary to what many believe, consolidating a Linux farm into multiple images on a mainframe would not change the demand pattern. Although z/VM can start and stop Linux images, it cannot dynamically add resources to match demand.

    Of course it can! The VM kernel will parcel out memory and CPU on demand.

    As a result, a mainframe would need to size for peak demand just as the Linux farm would;

    All computer systems need to size for peak demand. The difference is that with a mainframe, you can size one machine for the peak demand of the busiest of a large number of virtual machines, and get rid of the overhead caused by the load-balancing software, because you don't need it anymore.

    high utilization is a myth.

    VM systems can utilize 90-95% of the native computer resources. The overhead on a VM system is very, very small.

  • In Sun's defense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RoosterT (196177) on Friday February 22, 2002 @07:35PM (#3055062)
    Naturally this article is going to be met with some skepticism because it appears to be a self-serving marketing piece from Sun. This is unfortunate because the author makes several good points. I think it is important to note that this is more of an attack on mainframes and VM architecture than it is against Linux. It really does not make much sense to run 10, 100 or 10,000 copies of Linux on one super-duper computer. Sure it's neat, but we need to remember that computers are supposed to do useful things. What a collosal waste of cpu and memory to have 10,000 operating systems when the right one (yes, 1) would do the job just fine. Add to that the inherent performance hit from running on a "virtual machine" and it makes even less sense. I actually tend to think that IBM's use of Linux is more self-serving than Sun's attack. It's just an attempt to sell more expensive proprietary hardware by capitalizing on the intellectual generosity of others.
  • It seems lately with Sun floundering about the market and pulling silly moves re Java that all this really points to is that Sun really, really, really wants to be Microsoft.

    And they aren't. And they're pissed about it.

    Imagine for a moment that Sun has the hugely dominant market share in server revenues that it wished it had, and that cross-platform Java programming and their version of .Net rules the world. Do you honestly think that this company would be any more ethical than Microsoft?

    Given the way they've been acting, I think that Sun - if it had the opportunity - might even turn out to be *less* ethical. Much of what they've done lately reminds me of a five-year-old screaming "my toys are better than your toys! And they're my toys! And you can't touch them unless I say so, and only if you'll play with them the way I want you to!"

    I don't trust IBM any more than I do Sun when it comes to their motivations re Linux, but at least IBM has some class....

    Max
  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Friday February 22, 2002 @11:06PM (#3055722)
    Let's face it -- few organizations have people with mainframe talent, and those who have them don't have enough of them.

    So you are going to have to "engage" IBM Global Services to run the thing -- probaly a project manager @ $275/hour and a one or two consultants @ $200/hour.

    Add to this the INSANELY expensive hardware and software maintenance charges every year and you are talking about a serious amount of cash for little benefit

    When you consider the alternatives, it makes even less sense. You can buy 100 Sun E220's or 2-processor intel 4U servers for the cost of one mainframe that lets you emulate 20 Linux boxes.

    Mainframes have been on the wane for the last 20 years for good reason -- they are too friggin expensive!

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