Linux's Expanding Mainframe Role

Right now, the biggest use for mainframe Linux lies in consolidating infrastructure servers such as Web servers. But a few companies are already looking for new ways to use mainframe Linux to cut costs and increase efficiency.

Some are using application server environments such as WebSphere and WebLogic to run core business applications "in modern, Web-enabled or Web services environments," says Giga Information Group analyst Stacey Quandt.

Randy Lengyel, senior vice president of MIS at Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance, says he hopes to do just that. If he could run his PeopleSoft financial applications on mainframe Linux, Lengyel says, he could easily create virtual servers when his accountants need them and switch that power to Web servers during peak enrollment periods for new members. Currently, he says, the servers that keep the accountants happy during their crunch time sit nearly idle the rest of the year.

Dave Ennen, technical support manager at Winnebago Industries, says he hopes to save money by running mainframe backup software on Linux. By using IBM's HiperSockets to stage legacy data to Linux running on the mainframe before backing it up, he says, he could use lower-cost Linux backup tools.

Over the next 18 months, says Quandt, mainframe Linux will enter a third phase, where corporate IT will use it to run not only business applications but also databases that currently run on z/OS. This development would let IT shops use the lower-cost Linux environment to run complete application environments that used to be scattered across multiple, harder-to-manage servers.

Scheier is a freelance writer based in Boylston, Mass.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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