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System z Gets Extra Linux Support, Customer Win

IBM snags mainframe customer from Oracle and HP, while Novell boosts open source services for the platform.
IBM continued to build momentum around its mainframe hardware, as Novell introduced extended Linux support for the big iron platform while Big Blue itself said it had snagged a significant competitive win for System z from Hewlett-Packard and Oracle.

Novell said it would for the first time add SUSE Linux on System z to its Long Term Service Pack Support program. Under LTSS, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server customers get three years of additional support, mostly covering access to new service and security packs, in addition to seven years of general support.

"LTSS for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z reduces risk by ensuring that the configurations for mission-critical workloads running on the mainframe can be maintained over an extended period of time without change," Novell said.

Novell's move could boost System z's appeal as a Linux platform. LTSS programs "offer the assurance that those workloads can continue to run in a stable and secure environment for a longer period of time, which is a true differentiator in today's ultra-competitive, budget constrained marketplace," said Gartner managing VP Richard Jones.

Meanwhile, IBM is counting new customer wins for System z, revenues for which were up 69% year-over-year in the fourth quarter. The most recent is Payment Solution Providers, a Toronto-based developer of e-payment networks and related services. PSP has moved a number of payments services from a distributed Oracle-on-HP setup to System z, according to IBM.

PSP officials said the move allows it to consolidate servers and add new cloud services for customers. "The HP-Oracle infrastructure simply couldn't support our growing business," said Danny Gurizzan, PSP's executive VP for operations, in a statement. "By teaming with IBM, we are actively pursuing new clients and opportunities, confident that our technology can keep pace and hold operating costs to a minimum."

PSP officials also said System z was better suited to helping them meet the banking industry's PCI compliance standards. Representatives from Oracle and HP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

IBM shares were off .24%, to $165.54, in midday trading Tuesday. The company is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings after the closing bell.