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Red Hat, IBM partner on mainframe security

Government customers will be the first to benefit from new support and security enhancements for Red Hat Linux running on IBM mainframes.

SAN DIEGO -- During the Red Hat Summit this week IBM and Red Hat Inc. announced a new initiative meant to encourage the use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM System z mainframes.

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During a press conference at the Red Hat Summit 2007, Jim Stallings, IBM VP and GM, System z, listed security as one of the driving factors behind his company's partnership with Red Hat. "Governments and enterprises need highly available, highly secure IT resources. Enterprise Linux and System z meet those requirements," he said.

Stallings highlighted the security advantages of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and System z. According to Stallings, these include the 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.

The first joint mainframe security application promised to customers 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. More applications are planned by Red Hat and IBM in this space, but executives did not name them at the summit today.

To bolster technical support, Red Hat and the IBM System z group have added a Red Hat technical staff dedicated to System z. Red Hat will commit engineering resources and name System z lead architects in each of its major geographies. Additionally, Red Hat Global Support Services created a System z-dedicated support team comprised of its IBM mainframe experts. In North America, 18 Red Hat engineers have already completed the first of a series of IBM-Red Hat worldwide technical boot camps.

See more Red Hat Summit news:
Red Hat Summit 2007 conference coverage

Red Hat also created several professional and support services offerings for IBM System z, including configuration review, architecture consultation and on-site technical account manager support.

Mainframe resurgence

Executives from both companies said the program is meant to assist customers in evaluating, deploying and supporting this joint platform. They created the program in response to the growing adoption of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on mainframes by governments and companies worldwide.

Indeed, analyst firm IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., found that in Q4 2006, high-end enterprise server revenue grew roughly 9%. The rise was attributed to IBM System z revenue jumping 25% over the same period the previous year, according to IDC's Quarterly Server Tracker report. Over the past two years, Big Blue introduced two new mainframes: the z9 and a smaller mainframe called the z9 Business Class.

Analyst firm Ptak Noel & Associates also identified the trend in a recent report, estimating mainframe growth at 2% to 7% on the year.

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