The Ultimate Install Fest: Linux on the IBM System/390 - page 6
Recycling the Mainframe with Linux
IBM wants more mainframe customers to give Linux for S/390 a try, for a variety of reasons. Obviously, it makes a lot of money selling S/390 hardware and services, so the more uses that can be found for that big iron, the more it will, presumably, sell.
Linux on the mainframe is an image booster, too. People who work with mainframes know that they've enjoyed a renaissance of innovation in the past few years--but the image of big iron still carries an outdated, negative connotation in some circles. Linux on S/390 helps shore up the machine's image as a fully capable player in the new eCommerce industry. Furthermore, since IBM is pushing Linux and AIX on its other hardware platforms such as Netfinity servers, having Linux on the S/390 helps IBM to make the case for UNIX-like systems as a common standard for multiple levels of hardware.
So, for a variety of reasons, IBM has gotten very serious indeed about Linux. A couple of years ago, the same thing seemed to be happening with Java, and many people doubted whether IBM was enlisted for the duration. Today, IBM is one of the biggest players in the Java marketplace, and the last count I heard was that there are more Java programmers inside IBM than at Sun Microsystems. If the same thing happens with Linux over the coming year or two, IBM could push Linux into markets that it might otherwise have taken a decade or more to reach.
Say what you will about this giant corporation being a strange bedfellow for wild-and-wooly open source teams, but the undeniable fact is that corporate executives love IBM. Those same corporate executives set standards for technology within their companies, and they make large purchases. IBM's entry into the Linux arena will undoubtedly influence the open source movement, both for good and for ill, but there is no doubt whatsoever that it has given Linux a new level of credibility in the boardroom.
At the same time, IBM is still working to shred vestiges of the old "800 pound gorilla" image. If IBM can work successfully in an open environment, building open source and commercial code around open standards, then Linux may very well bring a new level of credibility for IBM as well.
Scott Courtney is a web programmer and feature writer for the Linux and Open Source channel of Internet.com. He has two Bachelor's degrees in engineering and over fourteen years experience working on systems, from embedded microcomputers to mainframes, at a large manufacturing company. Scott can be reached by e-mail to email@example.com.