IBM Brings Red Hat Container Platform to Mainframes

IBM this week announced that the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is now available on the distribution of Linux that IBM makes available on mainframes.

Barry Baker, vice president of IBM Z Software, says this latest offering is part of an ongoing IBM strategic initiative to bring container platforms to the mainframe that will modernize application development and deployment on the venerable IBM platform.

Based on the distribution of Kubernetes curated by Red Hat, the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform running on LinuxOne now makes it possible to build and deploy containerized applications on a mainframe rather than having to employ a distributed computing system. IBM has already committed to making Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform available on both the LinuxONE operating system and on z/OS at some future date, says Baker.

By making Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform available on LinuxOne, it becomes much easier to build and deploy applications on a mainframe versus having to employ a distributed computing system that would have to access data across a network, says Baker. That approach also makes data that resides on an instance of z/OS running on a mainframe more accessible to containerized applications via offerings such as IBM z/OS Cloud Broker integration software, he notes.

Since its acquisition of Red Hat last year, IBM has been steadily making available elements of the Red Hat portfolio on the mainframe. IBM, for example, soon plans to make available an instance of the Red Hat Ansible IT automation framework on the mainframe, says Baker.

IBM has also committed to making available IBM Cloud Paks that containerize IBM and open source software components as an alternative to legacy middleware stacks based on application servers. An IBM Cloud Pak for Applications that provides tools and frameworks to accelerate application development and deployment using DevOps practices was also made available on LinuxOne this week. IBM Cloud Pak for Applications is designed to run on top of the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.

Baker says IBM is collaborating with Red Hat to advance the adoption of best DevOps practices on the mainframe. Both Ansible and the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform are foundational elements of a hybrid cloud computing strategy that spans everything from mainframes to public clouds.

As far as the adoption of DevOps in mainframe environments is concerned, it is still early days. Organizations that have mainframes in place traditionally have relied on waterfall-based approaches to building and deploying applications. However, with the rise of digital business transformation initiatives, the rate at which new applications are being built that either reside on the mainframe or need to access data on the mainframe has risen sharply.

Of course, there are many IT organizations that also view containers as a method to lift and shift applications off the mainframe. The challenge IBM faces is convincing organizations that not only is the total cost of running modern and legacy applications on mainframe lower but also that the platform is faster and more reliable.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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