IBM LinuxONE: Who Needs the Cloud?

IBM has long been a stalwart supporter of, and participant in the Open Source community. So IBM’s announcement of the LinuxONE platform last year should have come as a surprise to no one. The ultimate goal for LinuxONE, however, may be a bit more surprising.

Linux and Open Source projects, platforms and tools are the foundation for much of today’s connected enterprise infrastructure. Increasingly, most of the interaction with this infrastructure occurs in the cloud often in Hybrid delivery model. It is IBM’s declaration that with LinuxONE it can provide a fast, scalable, available, and secure alternative at half the cost of public cloud-based solutions.

LinuxONE is a computing platform designed specifically to take optimum advantage of any or all of the major distributions of Linux; SUSE, Red Hat and starting in April Canonical’s Ubuntu as well. All models have just undergone a significant refresh, adding even more features and capabilities including faster processors, more memory and support for larger amounts of data. There are two LinuxONE models: The LinuxONE Emperor is designed primarily for large enterprises. According to IBM, it can run up to 8,000 virtual servers, over a million Docker containers and 30 billion RESTful web interactions per day supporting millions of active users. The Emperor can have up to 141 cores, 10 terabytes of shared memory, and 640 dedicated I/O (input/output) processors. The LinuxONE Rockerhopper model is a more entry-level platform aimed at mid-sized businesses. Available with up to 20 cores, running at 4.3 GHz, and 4 TBs of memory for performance and scaling advantages. It is capable of supporting nearly a thousand virtual Linux servers on a single footprint. Both LinuxONE systems support KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) with the initial port being supported by SUSE’s distribution.

    The latest enhancements to the LinuxONE platform include:
  • New Hybrid Cloud Capabilities – IBM is optimizing its Cloudant and StrongLoop technologies for LinuxONE. The new features will offer a highly scalable environment on Node.js, which enables developers to write applications for the server side using the language they prefer. Cloudant, an enterprise-grade fully managed NoSQL database, stores data in JSON format, common for mobile data, enabling users to save time by storing data natively in the system, without the need to first convert it to a different language.
  • Ecosystem Growth – IBM is expanding supported software and capabilities for LinuxONE. IBM LinuxONE recently ported the GO programming language, which was developed by Google. GO is designed for building simple, reliable and efficient software, making it easier for developers to combine the software tools they know and love with the speed, security and scale offered by LinuxONE. IBM will begin contributing code to the GO community in the summer. Also, through new work with SUSE to collaborate on technologies in the OpenStack space, SUSE tools will be employed to manage public, private and hybrid clouds running on LinuxONE.
  • Enhanced Systems – IBM is announcing refreshed versions of the LinuxONE family, both the Emperor and Rockhopper, to improve speed and processing power.

Now, this month, IBM Open Platform (IOP) will be available for the IBM LinuxONE portfolio at no cost. IOP represents a broad set of industry standard Apache-based capabilities for analytics and big data. The components supported include Apache Spark, Apache HBase and more, as well as Apache Hadoop 2.7.1. Continuing its commitment to contributing back to the open source community, IBM has optimized the Open Managed Runtime project (OMR) for LinuxONE. This repurposes the IBM innovations in virtual machine technology for new dynamic scripting languages, infusing them with enterprise-grade strength. IBM also contributed 70 thousand lines of code through GitHub as Anomaly Detection Engine for Linux Logs.

“IBM is strengthening its expansion into the open community, providing developers more choice and flexibility with LinuxONE,” said Ross Mauri, General Manager LinuxONE. “The platform’s broadened ecosystem and new hybrid cloud capabilities underscore the security, efficiency and performance that clients need, while delivering the flexibility and possibilities of open source they love.”

Clients using the platform benefit from its powerful right-time insights capabilities. The UK Met Office, a leader in climate and weather services for the public, business and government, uses LinuxONE to process transactions and run analytics to derive insights more quickly than before to deliver critical information in real-time.

“It is essential for us to deliver services based on accurate data that paints a full picture, and do so as quickly as possible,” said Graham Mallin, Executive Head of Technology, Met Office. “LinuxONE has enabled our organization to provide our services to clients based on weather and climate data faster, and these announcements will enable us to go even further with this life-saving work.”

Since the inception of cloud-based computing, enterprise IT people have embraced it cautiously; thrilled by the possibilities but a bit wary of the potential security issues, downtime, loss of control and other issues. LinuxONE just may be an excellent, even lower cost alternative.

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