IBM and Red Hat Announce Worldwide Enterprise Linux-On-Mainframe Program
IBM Corporation and Red Hat today announced an initiative to encourage the dramatic growth of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM System z mainframes. The comprehensive program will further assist companies in the evaluation, deployment and support of this joint platform. It was created in response to the growing adoption of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on mainframes by governments and companies worldwide, who are taking advantage of the security, scalability and low operating costs of the joint platform.
The companies today are highlighting the security advantages of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and System z. These include the superior physical security associated with a centralized mainframe server and storage installation, and the use of virtualization technologies such as logical partitions (LPARs), which divide the extensive resources of the mainframe between workloads, while securely isolating each application from the others. Any effective security regime requires comprehensive auditing, which both the System z hardware and Enterprise Linux 5 deliver so organizations can assess the efficacy of their security policies.
Unique among servers, the mainframe was designed from the beginning to incorporate processors that handle a variety of specialized tasks. For example, so-called specialty processors are designed for processing eligible Linux, Java and data workloads as well as encrypting and decrypting certain data. In addition, the mainframe can include up to 336 RISC processors to assist I/O.
System z also takes advantage of Red Hat's Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux). SELinux enables granular policy-based control over programs' access to data and kernel resources, preventing a compromised program from acting outside its policy. SELinux was developed in coordination with the open source community and the National Security Agency (NSA) to provide the highest levels of security for the Linux operating system. It is not a separate Linux distribution or code branch. Rather, it is a feature of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. By default, over 200 core system services in Enterprise Linux 5 are protected by targeted policies. This enables organizations to quickly benefit from the security provided by SELinux. As an added benefit, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 also includes enhanced SELinux management tools that simplify the process of creating, customizing, managing and troubleshooting SELinux policy.
The mainframe's fortress-like security is legendary. In the security certification known as the Common Criteria's Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL), the IBM mainframe achieved one of the highest levels of certification -- Level 5 -- for logical partitioning, IBM's premier virtualization technology.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 is the first Linux operating system to ship with native support for the functionality necessary to meet Common Criteria for Trusted Operating Systems. This includes all functionality to enable EAL 4+ certification under the following protection profiles: CAPP (Controlled Access Protection Profile), RBAC (Role Based Access Control) and LSPP (Labeled Security Protection Profile). In addition to the Common Criteria certifications already available to customers of System z, IBM is sponsoring the EAL 4+ certification of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 on System z. The existing certifications, which include LSPP on z/VM and z/OS, combined with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 certification, provide a secure platform environment capable of meeting the most stringent public or private sector security policies. IBM and Red Hat have co-authored a whitepaper that explores the security benefits of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 on IBM's System z platform. The whitepaper can be found on Red Hat and IBM websites.
"Governments and enterprises worldwide need highly available, highly secure IT resources. Enterprise Linux and System z uniquely meet those requirements," said Jim Stallings, IBM VP and GM, System z. "We are pleased to announce an enhanced relationship with Red Hat to deliver more scalability, security and reliability to Enterprise Linux mainframe solutions."
The program provides additional capabilities, premium support and an extended return for customers through a combination of open source value and mainframe reliability, availability and scalability (RAS) advantages. New and existing IBM mainframe customers seeking to expand their use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on the mainframe will enjoy enhanced offerings through the program's product development, support and joint solution offerings
"The combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and IBM System z means we can securely run diverse applications and processes while leveraging shared System z resources like memory, storage and I/O," said Beat Butikofer, Head of New Industry Development at Swisscom. "Because of the excellent support we receive from the IBM-Red Hat team, Swisscom can deliver the unbeatable service and support to our customers that we are known for."
Two key factors driving the growth of Linux partitions on the mainframe are the performance and security benefits of consolidating distributed applications. Customers are able to realize these benefits when the applications reside on Linux on System z, and the data also resides on System z on Linux or a traditional mainframe operating system such as z/OS. IBM and Red Hat are forming a joint engineering team to provide additional capabilities for running Linux-based applications on IBM System z. In addition, IBM and Red Hat technical teams have agreed to work together with the open source community as well as within Red Hat's engineering organization to investigate ways to accelerate and enhance Red Hat Enterprise Linux on System z.
To ensure the best technical support for customers, Red Hat and IBM System z group have strengthened pre-sales and post-sales technical support through the addition of dedicated Red Hat technical staff dedicated to System z. Red Hat has committed engineering resources and will name System z Lead Architects in each of its major geographies. Additionally, Red Hat Global Support Services has created a System z-dedicated support team comprised of its IBM mainframe experts. In North America, 18 Red Hat Engineers have completed the first of a series of IBM/Red Hat worldwide technical bootcamps that ensures a deep-skilled bench of Red Hat Enterprise Linux System z engineers.
Now, with customers able to unify their IT infrastructure with Linux on their System z mainframe, an opportunity for unparalleled economies of scale and cost reduction has surfaced. In response, Red Hat has created an enhanced professional and support services offering suite, designed to help customers maximize their Linux-on-mainframe return. With varied level options, customers can choose from a number of Red Hat Enterprise Linux-for-System z services including configuration review, architecture consultation and on-site Technical Account Manager support.
IBM and Red Hat will provide customers with solutions that leverage the capabilities of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM System z in a manner that is easy to deploy. The first joint solution is security-enhanced Red Hat Enterprise Linux on System z that caters to government customers managing secure access to classified and non-classified data. Red Hat and IBM engineering teams have worked together to offer Labeled Security Protection Profile (LSPP) Common Criteria certification for this solution. This operating environment gives government customers the highest assurance that data is protected and that access is granted only to those with proper clearance. Today's announcement is the first in a series of initiatives the companies are implementing to deliver a broad range of solutions on System z and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
"Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the one major operating system which scales from commodity server to mainframe, giving customers the widest range of choices while standardizing and simplifying their IT environments," said Alex Pinchev, Executive Vice President and President, International Operations at Red Hat. "For organizations requiring the highest security, scalability and reliability, System z and Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a compelling choice."