Canonical: Linux Mainframes May Power Software as a Service

Canonical: Linux Mainframes May Power Software as a Service

IBM Linux MainframeIf you're a managed service provider or software as a service (SaaS) specialist, here's an interesting theory: Instead of purchasing dozens -- or hundreds -- of x86 servers, you're sometimes better off virtualizing your applications on a mainframe.

At least that's the theory from Canonical Vice President Malcolm Yates, one of the leading evangelists of Ubuntu Linux. Here's why Yates believes mainframes will play a growing role in the SaaS revolution.

Canonical is developing so-called virtualized server appliances. According to Yates, the virtualized systems will allow administrators to rapidly deploy specific applications atop Ubuntu Server Edition. The virtualization layer, he says, will shield administrators from the complexity of the underlying server hardware.

Now, here's where things get interesting. In some scenarios, Yates believes SaaS environments will become too complex. SaaS providers, he notes, could wind up struggling to manage thousands of x86 servers running SaaS applications.

A far easier approach, Yates says, is for SaaS companies to deploy mainframes running a virtualization layer plus the "appliance" bundles of Ubuntu Server coupled with specific applications.

IBM has successfully leveraged Linux to revive its mainframe business. I'm certainly not suggesting that MSPs or smaller SaaS specialists will run out and buy mainframes. But I wonder if the bigger Master MSP and SaaS companies will make the move.

Meanwhile, we're tracking Canonical closely on our sister site, Works With U -- positioned as the independent guide to Ubuntu Linux. While Red Hat Linux and Novell SuSE Linux have stronger market share on the server, Canonical is widely considered the fastest-growing Linux distribution.

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