August 2006

Implementing Linux on IBM server zSeries

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MÁV Informatika (www.mavinformatika. hu), the Hungarian National Railways (Magyar Államvasutak or MÁV) information services division, is responsible for designing and supporting the entire information infrastructure, which includes online ticketing systems, business inventories, carriage tracking, and freight wagon allocation services. Based in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, MÁV Informatika currently employs about 500 people.

Over a period of time it was witnessed that MÁV Informatika’s workload began to subsequently increase with the rapid expansion of the Hungarian economy. Slowing in response times was being considerably experienced by both internal and external users. This ultimately made the urgency felt for the requirement of a more powerful server platform, which would have put the users at ease while bringing speed in response times. Moreover, even MÁV Informatika had also decided to cut operational costs, and possibly to reduce the number of physical servers and operating systems it needed to support.

“We had a diverse range of systems, including IBM S/390 [the predecessor to IBM server zSeries] and Intel®-based servers running Linux® and UNIX®. We wanted to preserve the core operational systems running on the S/390, including Lotus Domino applications, while cutting costs and developing our Web capabilities. This needed to be done securely and reliably – it is not acceptable to MÁV for systems to be unavailable,” explained János Németh, Systems Programmer.

Single platform for reduced costs

MÁV Informatika standardised on Linux as its strategic operating system, and chose IBM server zSeries as its main consolidated server platform as part of its drive to cut costs. As such, MÁV Informatika placed the primary zSeries server in Budapest, while a second system has been placed at a remote location as a stand-by ready to resume operations in the event of a disaster. Existing legacy applications run in a z/OS partition, while Linux partitions support both Linux and ported UNIX workload.

According to János Németh, MÁV Informatika has reduced both operating and maintenance costs by implementing IBM’s Linux on zSeries. Németh said, “We already had the Linux skills, which we could transfer directly to the zSeries, making it easy for us to implement new workload. Since implementation, Linux on zSeries has proved to be highly secure and extremely available.”

The zSeries supports 1,400 users, authenticated using the highly secure Remote Access Control Facility (RACF), enabling access to a wide range of legacy programs, Lotus Domino applications, and the MÁV online ticketing system. Data is stored on an IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server, with a capacity of 1.6TB.

High security for data

Concluding that the security and reliability of zSeries made for an unbeatable business case, MÁV Informatika said that it considered implementing Linux on Intel-based servers rather than on zSeries. Considering that both the legacy and Linux solutions use IBM DB2 data management software, MÁV Informatika implemented DB2 data sharing across the partitions to ensure that all corporate information is consistent.

MÁV Informatika, which is currently developing the online ticketing system, has also decided to run it on a Linux zSeries partition, with IBM WebSphere Application Server providing access to the travel planning, booking and payments systems.

János Németh said, “MÁV Informatika has been using IBM technologies since 1992. We have considered other platforms for our Linux-based systems, but the security and availability advantages made zSeries the only choice for MÁV Informatika.”

MÁV Informatika has expressed immense satisfaction with the new Linux and zSeries solution. The company is now able to reduce its IT maintenance costs and simplify the management of its IT infrastructure by consolidating to a single platform.

According to János Németh, the next step now would be to implement Tivoli Storage Manager on z/OS, which would give the ability to back up and archive data from every system within MÁV Informatika, including Linux on zSeries. This would provide much better system resilience and disaster recovery options.

Linux on German Federal Railways

Besides the Hungarian National Railways, even the German Federal Railways has decided to rely more heavily on IBM’s Linux as a server operating system in an effort to achieve sustainable cost savings. According to DB Systems, the German Federal Railway’s Intra-group IT Services Provider, Linux offered greater flexibility. Detlef Exner, head of IT Operations at DB Systems, said, “It is our job to develop and run the most efficient and cost-effective IT for the Federal Railways. For us there is no getting way from Linux. The changeover projects are all being erected upon a uniform Linux architecture. One of the main projects has been the Lotus-Notes/Domino switchover from z/OS to zLinux for IBM mainframes. The backbone of the Federal Railways’ IT system is made up of 32 redundant servers and has a data volume of about 6.5 terabyte. Because of the high volume in particular savings on license costs of about 50% can be expected.”

Italy’s Alpitour migrates to Linux on zSeries

Leading player in the Italian tourist industry Alpitour SpA (Alpitour), which has a presence in 7,000 travel agencies across Italy, has also selected IBM mainframe technology to run its core business systems since the mid-1980s. When IBM opened up its mainframe to the possibilities of Linux, Alpitour was delighted and jumped at the possibility of running new Linux-based systems on existing zSeries servers. Working with Gruppo Formula and IBM Italy, Alpitour has been able to implement and take advantage of Linux without losing the availability and performance offered by zSeries.

The Challenge

• Provide faster system response
• Reduce infrastructure complexity
• Lay plans for business resilience
• Cut operational costs

The Solution

• Implement IBM server zSeries
• Running z/OS and Linux®
• Port UNIX® workload to Linux
• Migrate existing Linux workload to zSeries
• Plan for Tivoli Storage Manager

The Benefit

• Reduced administration and maintenance costs
• Support for Web-based ticketing system
• Legacy COBOL applications on a single physical server

Initially, Diapason – a modular ERP system that holds second place in the Italian market, was implemented under z/OS on Alpitour’s IBM zSeries 900 server. However, the development under z/OS was too slow to meet the growing demand even though Diapason fitted Alpitour’s functional requirements well. Finally, Alpitour decided to port  it to Linux to improve flexibility and reduce costs. Alpitour’s z900 is now divided into two partitions – one running z/OS for legacy workload; the other one is running Linux, for Diapason, with 120 local and remote users, and boasting a WebSphere application connecting over 1,500 travel agencies. Alpitour is now expanding its use of Linux, creating new Web-based booking applications running under IBM WebSphere. “We had a diverse range of systems, including IBM S/390 [the predecessor to IBM server zSeries] and Intel®-based servers running Linux® and UNIX®. We wanted to preserve the core operational systems running on the S/390, including Lotus Domino applications, while cutting costs and developing our Web capabilities”

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