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IBM Saves $250M Running Linux On Mainframes

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the mmmm-dogfood dept.

Linux Business 274

coondoggie writes "Today IBM will announce it is consolidating nearly 4,000 small computer servers in six locations onto about 30 refrigerator-sized mainframes running Linux, saving $250 million in the process. The 4,000 replaced servers will be recycled by IBM Global Asset Recovery Services. The six data centers currently take up over 8 million square feet, or the size of nearly 140 football fields."

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Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (5, Funny)

flayzernax (1060680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065269)

This proves Linux has a smaller carbon footprint then other OS's!

Where the FUCK is iLife '07??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065335)

Come ON you homosexual deviants in Cupertino. QUIT FUCKING AROUND and update your fucking software every so often. You mincing faggots are worse than Debian...

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065427)

Yes - the rhythm, the rebel

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065443)

Without a pause - I'm lowering my level

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065449)

The hard rhymer - where you never been I'm in

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065457)

You want stylin' - you know it's time again

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065461)

D the enemy - tellin you to hear it

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065463)

They praised the music - this time they play the lyrics

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065465)

Some say no to the album, the show

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065475)

Bum rush the sound I made a year ago

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065481)

I guess you know - you guess I'm just a radical

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065489)

Not a sabbatical - yes to make it critical

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065491)

The only part your body should be parting to

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065493)

Panther power on the hour from the rebel to you

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065499)

Radio - suckers never play me

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065501)

On the mix - just O.K. me

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065505)

Now known and grown when they're clocking my zone it's known

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065509)

Snakin' and takin' everything that a brother owns

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065523)

Hard - my calling card

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065527)

Recorded and orderd - supporter of Chesimard

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065543)

Loud and proud kickin' live next poet supreme

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065555)

Loop a troop, bazooka, the scheme

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065569)

Flavor - a rebel in his own mind

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065573)

Supporter of my rhyme

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065579)

Designed to scatter a line of suckers who claim I do crime

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065603)

Terminator X

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065927)

well fuck you mods. obviously you don't appreciate any culture besides your own. you bunch of mother fucking cracker jack assholes

Re:Proof of Linux's Environmentalist Friendlyness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20066081)

You, sir, have way too much time on your hands. I suggest a new hobby.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065273)

30 refrigerator-sized mainframes

The six data centers currently take up over 8 million square feet, or the size of nearly 140 football fields
Something doesn't add up. That or I have some consulting time I'd like to sell IBM, I can assuredly pack 30 fridges into less space than that.

Re:No (3, Informative)

martinX (672498) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065479)

The current setup takes that much space. The new setup will be (presumably) smaller.

The six data centers [with the 4000 servers] currently take up over 8 million square feet

Re:No (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065905)

Sure. That makes sense. A typical PC takes up about twice as much square footage as my apartment.

-Peter

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20066071)

Yes. It says "six locations".

What if "location" means a building with parking spaces, atrium, lunch rooms, guard shacks, meeting rooms, offices, a floor for executives and management, etc.

That number becomes realistic.

It still doesn't make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20066051)

If it takes 8 million square feet to house 4,000 servers, that's 2,000 square feet per server.

Re:No (2, Funny)

jtcm (452335) | more than 7 years ago | (#20066075)

The six data centers [with the 4000 servers] currently take up over 8 million square feet
The current setup takes that much space. The new setup will be (presumably) smaller.

I should hope so!

8,000,000 ft^2 / 4,000 servers = 2,000 ft^2 per server

My god, those are large servers! They must still be using vacuum tubes...or maybe a 65cm manufacturing process.

Of course they're saving money (5, Funny)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065289)

Because they're using all that Microsoft IP without paying for it....

(it's a joke)

MOD THIS COMMENT THE FUCK DOWN!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065291)


   

Must be SCO jacked up the rates... (3, Funny)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065301)

for AIX on those mainframes! After all, AIX has more Unix IP than Linux, isn't it?

Re:Must be SCO jacked up the rates... (1, Informative)

grantek (979387) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065473)

or AIX on those mainframes! After all, AIX has more Unix IP than Linux, isn't it?

SCO UNIX runs on the x86 architecture, that was the basis of the claim that Linux contained copyrighted SCO code. IBM's Linux on POWER solutions run on, um, POWER :)

Really this is just a slashvertisement - it's great they're using Linux on a mainframe, but they're just IBM mainframes running multiple Linux instances, rather than multiple IBM servers running Linux. Honestly, on IBM hardware, I'd prefer IBM's OSes, but they're marketing the fact that you can have a high-powered, highly efficient, highly available consolidation solution that runs your existing Linux apps

Re:Must be SCO jacked up the rates... (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065511)

SCO owns the rights to the original (AT&T) Unix code. (Maybe. Novell claims they still own the rights and the SCO was just their license collector). All *real* unixes (including AIX and Solaris) pay/paid SCO a Unix licensing fee.

Re:Must be SCO jacked up the rates... (1, Offtopic)

Airline_Sickness_Bag (111686) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065793)

SCO owns the rights to the original (AT&T) Unix code. (Maybe. Novell claims they still own the rights and the SCO was just their license collector).

There is no "Maybe" about it. SCO does not own any of the System V code - they own Unixware and Opensewer, just like SGI owns Irix. None of the copyrights on the SysV code transferred to The Santa Cruz Operation, let alone SCO/Caldera. And SCO has not provided any documentation that shows what (code) copyrights were transferred with the specificity required by law. SCO owes Novell millions of dollars for the licences they sold to Microsoft and SUN - despite their claims that those licenses do not fall under the contract with Novell (I.e., not about SysV), their filings to the Security and Exchange Commission state that they were about SysV.

According to their contract with SCO, SCO is to collect the royalties and pass them directly to Novell. Novell then gives them 5% of it.

Not all Unix licensees pay royalties - IBM and Sun have fully paid up licences. So they never give SCO a cent.

Re:Must be SCO jacked up the rates... (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065823)

Ok, I didn't realise that, but my point still stands - I doubt IBM are paying a per-license fee for AIX, and especially not z/OS

this article has been up a couple minutes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065303)

and still not a single posting from a user. I believe this may be a sign that slashdot is dyi...

whoa...

First psot!

Re:this article has been up a couple minutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065359)

You fail it.

Ric Romero says "virtualization saves space" (2, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065307)

Um, hello, while this may deserve the 'neat' tag, it's hardly newsworthy.

People are consolidating lightly (and heavily!) used servers into VMs all over the place.

Re:Ric Romero says "virtualization saves space" (1)

Urusai (865560) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065389)

VMs are just an excuse to keep running the same shoddy software forever. As for arguments that they help protect against crashes and the like, well, that's because you have shoddy software. Arguments that they let you run multiple environments, well, same story. You could have been paid as a software developer to rewrite crapware for the modern age, but instead all of you just cream your jeans for VMs that steal the livelihood of software developers. Dunces, all!

IBM's been doing this for-ever, dude. (5, Interesting)

crovira (10242) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065737)

I had to maintain some software that was running on a aging 370 mainframe. The 370 was emulating a 360 which was emulating a 1401.

It was pension and payroll software and it was legally blessed.

It was such a frigging song and dance trying to get anything done that it was cheaper and faster for the company to emulate their butts off rather than trying to go through the management and the unions and the employees.

But I did learn about optimizing instruction fetches by scattering the compiled code around the circumference of a magnetic drum so that the drum would have rotated around beneath the read head in time for the next instruction.

Try and tell that to the young people of today, and they wont believe you, eh Obadiah?

Re:IBM's been doing this for-ever, dude. (2, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065807)

Isn't the System/370 backwards compatible with the 360? Why would it need to "emulate" a 360 when it can just run the 360 code directly?

Just curious because I recall reading that even the latest zSeries systems can natively run code dating all the way back to the original System/360 models.

-Z

Re:Ric Romero says "virtualization saves space" (2, Interesting)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065745)

I have seen applications that are well written, understood and maintained and are 30 years old. I suffered through the rewrite of a well known, commercial revision control application we used to maintain our code. Originally in C, it was rewritten in Java with horrible results. Our checkout times went from a few minutes to 10 minutes for a full checkout. All our custom tools no longer worked, but the interface looked fabulous. Frankly, I'll take a text console based application over some bloated "modern age" crapware any day.

Re:Ric Romero says "virtualization saves space" (2, Interesting)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065937)

depends on the database behind that 30 year old software for me. I've seen extremely flat databases with nothing but a text console wrapped around it. Extremely, poor integrity standards and the data falls apart like a stack of Jenga blocks (the more people playing the quicker it falls). Computers back then were (often) used to supplement paper systems and sometimes it really shows.

A pleasure to work with, as well.. (5, Informative)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065321)

We (Bigattichouse's Vectorspace Database [bigattichouse.com] ) went through their Linux certification (as well as Grid cert), and they were a pleasure to work with - providing expert advice and patience in every step of the process. Not exactly on topic, I guess, but I thought I'd share. They really seem to embrace the engineering and spirit of Linux.

2000 sq feet per small computer? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065329)

The article says that the data centers required for the 4000 "small computer servers" aggregate to about 8 million square feet. It takes IBM 2000 square feet to house a small computer? Also, saving $250 million suggests that it costs them something over $60K per "small computer" even ignoring the price of the new mainframes. Amazing.

Re:2000 sq feet per small computer? (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065665)

Vacuum tubes = costly = takes up large space = less green = it's about time

(I'm so sorry)

Re:2000 sq feet per small computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065839)

lol.

Re:2000 sq feet per small computer? (0)

irtza (893217) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065741)

This is all easily explained. $62K and 2000 square feet can be very easily explained. Now this guy has to be a typical geek, so they need to provide him with enough soda for the day - IE one vending machine. Now, most of the time, the computers will take care of them selves so they will need something for entertainment - like a secondary system with cool games so he doesn't try to install them on the server. Now, in an age of high-def and large screens, he will require that the game is played on the largest LCD screen available and will also require an appropriately sized room to play it in. Of course he would require access to a bathroom and with the expected hygene of a geek, it may be better to not have them share. Now, we haven't even begun to talk about the food requirements of said geek. So, at the end of the day, 2K in electricity and parts for the server per year, 30K for the salary of the employee (entry level position babysitting a server) - 50K once benefits and co-pays are included. an addition 8K for the electricity for the "supportive devices". Now, you may be thinking that you can fit all this in way less than 2000 square feet. What you are forgetting is that a geek is a solitary animal. Letting them get close together would plummet their already weak work ethic. You will be more likely to end up with a contest to see who can overclock their server faster and end up with a bunch of burnt units or potentially a burnt building.

I thought all this was obvious, but I guess it takes time for people to learn... you might want to speed up your computer a little bit to keep pace.

Re:2000 sq feet per small computer? (1)

iagreewithmichael (927220) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065827)

If entertainment was the problem, a blow-up doll would have saved IBM a ton of money

My employer recently 'consolidated' too. (5, Interesting)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065331)

My employer recently 'consolidated' their server farm too. We used to have a room with fifty aging Dell PowerEdge servers, each running independently, requiring massive support, cooling, and electricity.

Now we have ten VM servers running all the migrated services, PLUS a room with about fifty aging Dell PowerEdge servers, each running independently, requiring massive support, cooling, and electricity.

I never thought 'consolidation' would require so much more space, electricity, air conditioning, and upgrades to core switches and UPS units.

Re:My employer recently 'consolidated' too. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065387)

You're supposed to turn off and sell off the servers you replace. (Score -1: Obvious).

(Strange thing is, I make a good living replacing aging mainframes by linux clusters. mainframes are fine when you're doing transaction processing. But for cpu-bound stuff, you're better off with a room full of opterons).

Re:My employer recently 'consolidated' too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065551)

Yeah, real life ALWAYS works like that.

I did a consolidation for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. We took 500 servers down to a dozen beefy VMWare ESX boxen. What did management say when we were done? Cool beans guys, now leave the old servers up and we'll tell the board we doubled our capacity for 25% of what it usually costs.

Re:My employer recently 'consolidated' too. (3, Insightful)

supremebob (574732) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065853)

Yeah... that sounds about right. I've ordered plenty of VMWare host servers for "consolidation" as well, only to have them grabbed up my new projects that were higher priority and had more potential to make the boss look good to his managers. Sure... A few servers get shut off every year due to projects that leave, but the actual server count ends up expanding every year.

I wonder if IBM factored in the number oddball projects that require Windows systems in their server count? Windows won't run in a zSeries VM, and there is plenty of software out there that is still Windows only.

Imagine.... (1)

Jrabbit05 (943335) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065337)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those!

Re:Imagine....Need To Update... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065863)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those!

Don't you mean a virtual Beowulf cluster?

You've got to get up to date. After all, this is 2007 -- the year of Linux! (or something)

Oblig. (0, Offtopic)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065341)

But does it run....ah, hell. Um, imagine a beowulf cluster of...hmm.

Fuck it. Who wants pizza?

System z Mainframes (2, Interesting)

o2sd (1002888) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065375)

It's kinda hard to find technical specifications on these mainframes beyond marketing fluff. After some looking I found this brochure [ibm.com] , which has some interesting information on the firmware and a few details of the I/O, but not much about the processing units, and why one of these would be able to replace 133 blade servers. It does mention up to 30 superscalar processors per box, but I'm not really sure what that means. (Maybe they go next to the inverting flux capacitor).

Re:System z Mainframes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065471)

newer zseries an have up to 54 processors per machine. Actually more -- 54 general purpose processors. IO, Memory management, crypto, etc are handled by dedicated processors.

Re:System z Mainframes (5, Informative)

BrynM (217883) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065679)

It's kinda hard to find technical specifications on these mainframes beyond marketing fluff.

Part of that is because IBM will customize the machines to your heart's content. The sky and your budget are the only limits. They leave a good many of the loadout details (xGB/TB of RAM, DASD storage size, # of CPUs per card, # of CPU cards, even number of mainframes - they can be chained in parallel). You should look at the Z series hardware specs [ibm.com] for the general details and look up what details you don't know.

If you're looking for benchmarks or comparisons to x86/x86-64 or other commodity architectures good luck - they are nearly impossible to find. This is due to the implementations being on entirely different scales. The best comparison you an find is the MIPS per CPU. You can find some slightly stale numbers here [isham-research.co.uk] (BTW: an LPAR [wikipedia.org] is something that's been around on mainframes for several decades - one LPAR can run up to several hundred x86 VMs concurrently).

Re:System z Mainframes (1, Interesting)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 7 years ago | (#20066087)

The other part of it is that the zLinux miracle is mostly bullshit.

zLinux is great if you're consolidating mostly idle, low priority resources. The "magic" that allows you to save money while simultaneously getting raped by IBM Global Services and paying too much for hardware is thin provisioning. You might assign 10 Linux VMs 1GB RAM each, and only have 4GB of actual memory available. Same thing with CPU. This is an efficient use of resources, if your applications don't all require memory at the same time... if you're like me, your employer has lots of memory-hogging J2EE stuff. On the other hand, crypto and networking between VMs is blazing fast.

Another problem is that in a big business that has mainframes, the mainframe folks are very conservative, use much stricter change and other controls than most open systems shops and don't understand the workloads that Unix/Linux systems get. They get prickly when your linux systems start looking for lots of resources. Everything takes about 3x longer.

The other issue is that the VMs are dependent on the Linux installation on the LPAR, and you may not have many LPARs available. If you want to run Red Hat & Suse, or RHEL5 and RHEL4, you need an LPAR for each. Nobody (except for a few showboat customers) is investing in new mainframes, and you may only have a few LPARs available on an existing mainframe available.

So if you have a business model like providing lots of cheap (and mostly idle) virtual servers, and you already have a major Mainframe investment, zLinux is a great solution. Otherwise, you're probably better off looking at the hardware virtualization options that you can get from Sun or even on whatever IBM calls RS/6000's these days for 1/5 of the cost.

Just a note: I'm not a mainframe guru, and my views are slanted based on my experience in working at a particular employer about a year and a half ago. So some of the issues may have changed, or the options available to me may have been limited due to some site-specific restriction that I am not aware of.

But will it blend? (0, Offtopic)

StinkyPinky (965500) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065393)

Sorry, I thought I would bring down the Slashdotters to the Digg level.

Re:But will it blend? (1, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065561)

It would but Blendtec would need to consolidate their 4,000 blenders to around 30 refrigerator sized ones....

Awesome consolidation (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065521)

There's nothing new under the Sun: And Sun's offerings in hardware and software are also very much aimed at consolidation. Bring it on.

An obvious conclusion (1, Interesting)

GFree (853379) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065533)

Saving a lot of dough by using Linux on servers makes sense, heck it's fairly obvious to anyone here, that's where it excels.

I think Slashdotters would be more interested in stories that focus on a company switching its desktops to Linux though. Servers running Linux are pretty common. We want news about the desktop front; it would be more newsworthy at least.

Re:An obvious conclusion (1)

teh moges (875080) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065987)

That would be good, but I do want at least one new story a week.

The point of this story isn't to point out that Linux servers are cheaper/better/faster, its to point out that the Linux platform got some publicity. For those trying to get everyone switching to Linux for their desktops, publicity is their one major problem (as well as many smaller problems, but thats an argument for another story).
Remember when Microsoft said that Linux infringes on their patents but they weren't going to sue? They were never going to sue, they just wanted the good publicity of "playing fair" with the competition that "steals all their hard work".
Anyway, my point is to look at the publicity, ignore the details.

$250M?? (3, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065617)

Lets see... $250M / 4000 = $62,500 per server being consolidated? I mean, I know floor space, buildings, racks, power, AC etc cost money... but that's still a *lot*. Anyone care to chime in on how close to normal that is?

Re:$250M?? (4, Funny)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065671)

The old servers were Macs?

Re:$250M?? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065749)

They're probably computing cost over the expected lifetime.

Combine IT salary for 3-5 years, power over 3-5 years, etc. etc. and that number makes sense.

what does this have to do with Linux? (4, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065621)

The story here is about consolidation, virtualization, etc.

Linux is a small part of the technology involved here. z/OS is the real story here.

Re:what does this have to do with Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065643)

Actually z/OS has nothing to do with virtualization.. it's z/VM that is doing all the magic..

But how many LOCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065653)

The six data centers currently take up over 8 million square feet, or the size of nearly 140 football fields.
The real question is: how many Libraries of Congress can they store?

Re:But how many LOCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065713)

A good 6 inches of chocolate rain.

Re:But how many LOCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065963)

chocolate rain!!! WOW

$250M per how long? (1)

TimFreeman (466789) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065681)

I could imagine that replacing a bunch of little computers with a few big ones would result in saved electricity, rent, and maintenance cost. Those are all ongoing expenses, so I could believe that they save $250M per year or decade or whatever, but the claim was that they saved a lump sum of $250M. If they were thinking of buying that pile of little computers, I could also believe that they saved $250M by buying a few big ones instead of a bunch of little ones; however, they said they were replacing the little ones. I can't find an interpretation of the article that makes any sense; can anyone else do better?

Re:$250M per how long? (1)

Dr. Smoove (1099425) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065859)

I'm not even sure this actually happened. I can make up stories like this about my non existant company.

1. "We consolidated 300 LOC's and 17 Volkswagen Beatles worth of computers by switching from Fridges to Dishwashers, in one of those wacky datacenter trailer majigs. We saved 2^64 million dollars in the process, and bought IBM."

2. ???

3. Profit!!11

IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065703)

Considering IBM is investing a sizeable chunk of time and money into their Linux, it makes sense they'd claim using it saves millions of dollars, just as Microsoft would claim using their own server software saves millions of dollars.

Re:IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065939)

Um, the ./ title says: IBM Saves $250M Running Linux On Mainframes

TFA title says: IBM saves $250 million consolidating Linux servers on to mainframes

It is the consolidation that is saving IBM the money not using Linux per se. IBM also has AIX they could use in lieu of Linux.

Well Duh. (4, Insightful)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065715)

If you take hundreds of cabs and consolidate them down to 40 (with the associated consolidated storage) you are going to save millions. That has little to do with Linux. It is the modern mainframe that makes this kind of thing possible, which is why more people are moving to them. They must have a lot of servers spinning idle to get this done.

The reason why companies are in this pickle is because they thought more was better. They though "All we need to do is buy 4000 x86 servers and we can do tons of work." They didn't realize how HARD it is to get 4000 servers to operate in a cluster so you can take advantage of those individual systems as one body. So, they ended up with islands of computing power instead of a cluster. Naturally the mainframe consolidates these islands back to computing continents and you end up running the mainframes at near capacity all the time. Modern mainframes make this easy with dynamic CPU/RAM allocation, as well as dynamic storage. So you segment out the mainframe in to four or eight chunks. Chunk 1 is hot, chunk 3 and 5 are idle. Simply re-assign some of the CPUs from chunk 3 and 5 to 1 until the load goes down. You can take advantage of this in a big way if you segment your work load to match global demand. So chunk 1 might be data for the western USA, and chunk 7 might be EMEA. You can bounce resources between those segments much more easily. You can even script it. HP has an offering that does this automagically, I'm sure IBM has something similar.

Now, my personal opinion is why Linux? Some of the more advanced features like dynamic RAM, CPU, and IO allocation don't appear to be that solid to me. Perhaps IBM added these features to Linux or made them more robust? Maybe they run Linux inside an AIX virtualization container?

almost enough to pay for one executive's perks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065729)

great! glad to see the company is doing so well saving money.

single points of failure (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065769)

Now when something goes wrong, 133 server apps go down all at once! I know, Linux is stable, but a machine hosting 133 apps just sounds like a recipe for a molly-guard type disaster.

Re:single points of failure (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065879)

Nah ... Linux is just the icing on the cake. There's plenty of real mainframe meat underneath.

Re:single points of failure (4, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065899)

Now when something goes wrong, 133 server apps go down all at once! I know, Linux is stable, but a machine hosting 133 apps just sounds like a recipe for a molly-guard type disaster.


These are machines that don't break, period. We're talking the types of machines that run the major banking systems of the world and the like. They simply do not go down. In this situation, if one of the 133 apps buggers up, it's only that VM that's shot. You just nuke it and restart it, the rest of the machine just keeps ticking along.

Re:single points of failure (3, Informative)

rascher (1069376) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065981)

Not quite. They are engineered (as they have been for decades) for stability and were designed to handle that kind of load. Its CPU/RAM/storage are redundant, so that if something in the system goes down, new resources are allocated. Additionally, shops will have multiple mainframes just for that kind of redundancy. Its kind of like saying your car is a "single point of failure" - sure, it is, but they were engineered for the purpose of being reliable.

IBM shouts -- Yay Linux (1)

velophile (661890) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065801)

Why is IBM so pro Linux over the last few years? I'm not going conspiracy with this, I'm just curious what their motive is. I mean, excuse me for not tossing full faith into trusty `ol "Big Blue", but for some reason every time IBM chants the virtues of Linux I cringe slightly. My guts just twist like a compass pointing due south. I don't think anybody on /. is naive enough to think IBM supports Linux for the same reasons most folks here do, but their exact motive remains a mystery to me. The question isn't so much what they gain but what Microsoft (or whomever they view as their direct competitor) loses. While there is no doubt IBM is a good friend to have, it's a friend I look to with a forced smile.

Re:IBM shouts -- Yay Linux (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065891)

I think a good part of that can be attributed to their being able to run one more or less standard OS across dozens of disparate systems. The real question is why they picked Linux vs. a proprietary design or some other open source OS.

Re:IBM shouts -- Yay Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065999)

Because they can make a fortune in consulting since nothing in Linux works out of the box. They'll customize to your heart's (and wallet's)content and laugh all the way to the bank.

OS/2 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20066003)

Because after OS/2 died IBM didn't want to get fucked by Microsoft again and Apple didn't have a business solution. Creating another ground up OS was definitely not a solution so they were left with two options: Linux and Unix. The only reason Linux is run on as many servers as it is today is because of IBM. They do Linux R&D, produce software, and provide B2B services for the OS. Linux is the official OS of IBM and without their support Microsoft would currently have a monopoly on server software. So, a simple answer to your question would be that IBM has a financial interest in Linux. But it goes deeper than that: IBM has committed to Linux - it's a marriage.

I think you're hesitant to accept IBM because of the whole 70's/80's "Big Blue" stuff, but after Microsoft swept the rug out from under their feet the company's strength was permanently compromised. The consumer market rejected them (hence the sale of the PC division to Lenovo) and until they committed to Linux software was a major vulnerability for them. The openess of Linux enabled them to get back in the game - their customers didn't have to worry about the future of the platform while their immense contributions to Linux enabled the OS to really threaten Microsoft. So yeah - as a Slashdotter, IBM are the good guys. They support Linux and they don't aggressively protect their many, many patents (they use their patents to protect themselves rather than trying to sue everyone they can for $$$). Personally, I think IBM is the most important tech company in the world.

Re:IBM shouts -- Yay Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20066033)

IMHO it is IBM's only way to Justify z/VM or z/OS. Without Linux who would even know that these operating systems existed? z/VM and z/OS isn't in the vocabulary of most /.ers. Mention the word mainframe and people think of old dinosaurs with ascii terminals. Mention Linux on a mainframe and it gives new life to old concepts. The only problem is one has to upgrade a mainframe's hardware in order to take full advantage of Linux. But go and tell a manager you want to pay through the nose for new mainframe hardware and see the look you get. Sure, IBM is doing it but is anyone else?

Ok. But How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20065835)

I have been hearing more and more about all this grid computing, consolidating, VMs stuff. Please forgive my ignorance, but how would you do it? is there open source software to do it? would you stuff 10 VMWare/QEmu VMs in one server with lots of memory and hard disk? or you create a beowulf cluster and run VM's on it?

A Small Request (2, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065843)

Can I have the old ones?

A very confusing endeavor for us (4, Interesting)

DutchSter (150891) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065955)

Where I work we currently run two mainframes in a sysplex environment for all the core transactions. It's a very optimized environment and handles millions of financial transactions a day. In mid-2006, IBM started giving us zLinux engines to "try out" and they gave us all of the software we needed to make a go of it. Kind of like a playground drug dealer, they hoped that by giving us a bit for free we'd get hooked and become dedicated customers. The problem was, for the type of workload that typically runs on our servers (high CPU, moderate I/O) we were experiencing poor performance on the mainframe VMs. IBM sent all their engineers out to help make tweaks and tune all sorts of things. Despite all the tuning and tweaking that took place, we could never get a single engine to perform better than a $5,000 server. Keep in mind that a single engine was retailing for around $80,000 after discounts.

We did some calculations and determined that for the price of a zLinux engine we could buy an entire rack of high-end HP servers that would outperform the single engine by a factor of 200:1. Again, maybe it was just the workload we were doing, but even IBM couldn't figure it out and our server work profile isn't exactly uncommon. Granted you can cram a lot of guests onto a host system provided that none of the guests want to use more than 10% of their CPU at any given time, but that defeats the purpose. I could probably run a VMWare host with 100 guests and call it a success, provided they all sat idle.

It was kind of funny because the IBM engineers would shake their heads and admit that for our workload it just wasn't going to work out. Then the next week the sales guy would call and ask if we were ready to buy that third mainframe since he just read the engineer's report and our visit was obviously a smashing success.

I'm not knocking the whole Linux on the mainframe concept, I'm just sharing our experience and how the whole thing seemed to be like someone in IBM Marketing declared "we need to sell Linux on the mainframe" and the Dilberts were forced to sell a product that worked about as well as a chocolate fireguard. It was a very awkward experience and even the IBM engineers seemed like they were stuck in an uncomfortable position of supporting sales for a product that even moderately demanding customers wouldn't be able to run with.

Personally I consider Linux on the mainframe to be on par with running Linux on an iPhone. Sure you probably can, but does it actually do anything uniquely useful for the business? I have a hard time selling technology to the CIO on the grounds that because it's Linux it's a good business decision regardless of the context.

And another thing .... (1)

o2sd (1002888) | more than 7 years ago | (#20065961)

8 million square feet for 4000 servers??!!! WTF? That's 2000 sq.ft per server.

Why would a server need a 3 bedroom apartment to run?

It's just an endless cycle (5, Interesting)

ogren (32428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20066057)

I still haven't seen any conclusive evidence that Linux on mainframe is a good idea. I'm sure running 30 new mainframes is going to cost less than 4000 aging servers. Just about anything would be less expensive than 4000 aging servers.

But I bet that a small farm of modern medium sized servers running Linux on VMWare would be even less expensive. Or Solaris/Niagara. Why would you want to run an open source operating system, whose major benefits are openness and affordability on the what is literally the most expensive and most proprietary computing platform in the world!

These server consolidation projects are just giant boondoggles spawned because the server sprawl finally got insane. It's an endless cycle:

A. Giant server consolidation project that takes 4000 servers down to 30 servers.
B. Department B complains that Department A's application keeps hanging and consuming all of the CPU. They demand their own hardware "for availability reasons".
C. Vendor C demands dedicated hardware for licensing/capacity planning/supportability reasons. Rather than constantly bicker with the vendor over supportability they get dedicated hardware.
D. Department D complains that the IT department is charging outrageous prices for time sharing on the mainframe. After all a dedicated server only costs $XXX.
E. Suddenly there are 4000 servers again.
F. IT department spends some insane amount of money on infrastructure to manage the 4000 servers.
G. IT department budget gets insanely large trying to manage that much stuff.
H. Some CIO gets the idea that all of this money managing servers is ridiculous and we should do a server consolidation project.
I. IT department spends an even larger amount of money on the latest super high availability gear and consulting services so that the can run 4000 commodity servers inside a few big servers. All because it will "cost less to maintain".
J. Go back to A.

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