Linux now 11% of IBM MIPS sold

Rohit Khare
Thu, 24 Jan 2002 21:38:57 -0800

IBM unveils first Linux-only mainframes

ARMONK, N.Y. (Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp. Friday 
said it is launching its first mainframe computers that will only run 
Linux, saying the alternative operating system is gaining ground as 
companies tighten purse-strings in the tough economy.

IBM said the two new machines, the iSeries for small businesses and 
the more powerful and costly zSeries, can replace racks of smaller 
server computers made by rivals like Dell Computer Corp. and Sun 
Microsystems Inc.

``This is really a first for IBM. It is the first time we are 
introducing new mainframe technology designed for Linux and server 
consolidation. This is really the first pure Linux mainframe,'' Peter 
McCaffrey, director of product marketing for the machines, said in an 

The support for Linux comes as IBM is seeing a resurgence in 
mainframe sales. IBM mainframes, large, multi-processer machines, 
ruled the computing world in the 1960s and `70s but were usurped by 
cheaper PCs and servers.

Yet IBM says the business is once again booming as companies find it 
is costly to link dozens or even hundreds of servers together to meet 
their corporate networking needs.

The Armonk, New York-based company says its eServer zSeries 
mainframes have been the fastest-growing platform in the industry and 
the only one to post five consecutive quarters of growth.

IBM has offered Linux as an alternative platform on its mainframes 
for some time, and says Linux accounts for 11 percent of the 
computing capacity, as measured in millions of instructions per 
second, it shipped in its last quarter.

But the new products are its first Linux-only mainframes.

``It (Linux) is becoming an important and growing part of the overall 
mainframe business. Many IT organizations are cutting costs, and what 
they found is they can use the mainframe to cut costs by sweeping the 
floor of the Dell-Intel or Sun-Unix servers,'' McCaffrey said.

The lower-end iSeries could replace up to 15 regular servers and 
would cost around $50,000, while the powerful zSeries could replace 
hundreds of servers and would cost about $400,000, McCaffrey said. He 
said that compares with an average mainframe cost of about $750,000.

The mainframes would also be configured so technicians with little or 
no experience on traditional IBM mainframes could easily set them up, 
McCaffrey said.

``It does allow us to reach different customer sets and different 
audiences that we couldn't reach with traditional full-blown 
mainframes,'' McCaffrey said. ``We've really hidden and eliminated 
the complexities sometimes associated with that and made it more of a 
load-and-go package.''