IBM argues that some customers will find the mixture advantageous because they can run Web sites on Linux with high-speed connections to databases and other back-end services that run on mainframes. Another target market is application service providers (ASPs), companies that host complex software for clients who don't want to do it themselves, said Pete McCaffrey, program director for S/390.
IBM's mainframe business also could get a shot in the arm when its new G7 systems, code-named Freeway, arrive in September. The new G7 systems are optimized for e-business, McCaffrey said.
A new Linux pricing plan means that current customers using the company's G6 mainframes can buy a new processor for $125,000 as long as it's used only to run Linux, McCaffrey said. A new processor normally costs three times that, he said.
In addition, IBM, Computer Associates, Compuware, BMC and other providers of mainframe software won't charge extra fees for Linux processing capacity, he said. Ordinarily, when new processors are added to a mainframe, software subscription fees increase.
IBM also is changing its pricing model for Linux software on S/390 so it's more like the sales model for other servers, he said. Instead of charging ongoing fees, IBM will charge a one-time fee and an optional ongoing maintenance fee based on the computer's processing capability.
Finally, IBM has made more generally available a feature to allow numerous different instances of Linux to run on an S/390. The feature formerly was available only when using the VM (virtual machine) operating system but now is packaged separately, simpler to use and priced at $20,000 per processor, McCaffrey said.