IBM has a new plan to boost its ancient but super profitable mainframe business

IBM’s mainframe business is decades old, but still generates a lot of profit for the company.

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For the past two quarters, IBM has been saved by one of its oldest product lines: the mainframe.   Altogether, IBM is trying to make the mainframe a more relevant computer for a broader variety of businesses, and put it in the center of trends like big data and mobile computing.  On Monday, IBM revealed a plan that will double down on the mainframe. It’s been shipping mainframe computers that run the free and open-source Linux operating system for 15 years, but its upping its game there, announcing:

  • Two new Linux mainframe servers called LinuxONE, that work with some of the today’s most popular open-source software: Apache Spark, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Chef and Docker.
  • A new “Open Mainframe Project,” formed with the Linux Foundation, where IBM will give away an unprecedented amount of its mainframe software for free. It is particularly giving away software that does “IT predictive analytics” — software that monitors huge IT systems for unusual system behavior. This can be freely used by other people interested in writing apps for the mainframe.
  • A free app development cloud for people who want to write new apps for the mainframe, called the LinuxONE Developer Cloud. 
  • A new partnership with Linux company Ubuntu. IBM now has three flavors of Linux available for its mainframe delivered by Red Hat, SUSE and now Ubuntu.

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