How IBM’s LinuxONE Has Evolved For the New Open Source Cloud


One year ago at LinuxCon 2015 in Seattle, IBM announced IBM LinuxONE, its enterprise-grade system specifically designed for Linux and open source workloads. Today in their keynote at LinuxCon 2016 in Toronto, IBM executives Jim Wasko and Donna Dillenberger will give us an update on how the technology has evolved since then and how IBM is involved now in the open source community. (You can watch all the morning keynotes on our live video stream starting at 9 a.m. Eastern.)  

In this Q&A, Mary Hall, who does marketing for LinuxONE and Blockchain at IBM, tells us more about LinuxONE, how it has evolved, and some of the challenges that remain for open source cloud computing today. Can you please briefly describe LinuxONE? How is it uniquely tailored for Linux and open source?

Mary Hall:  LinuxONE is IBM’s Linux Server.  The LinuxONE server runs the major distributions of Linux; SUSE, Red Hat and Canonical’s Ubuntu.  The server also runs open source databases like Mongo DB , PostgreSQL and MariaDB  allowing for both horizontal growth and vertical scale, as demonstrated by running a 2TB Mongo database without sharding.  Several of the features built into this system support the constant innovation inherent in the open source movement while maintaining the performance and reliability required by Enterprise clients; for example, Logical Partitions (LPARs) allow clients to host a development environment on the same system as production with zero risk. How has LinuxONE evolved since you announced it last year?

Mary: The LinuxONE servers have undergone a significant refresh in 2016, adding even more features and capabilities including faster processors, more memory and support for larger amounts of data.

IBM LinuxONE continues to provide additional flexibility for developers by building out capabilities for both enterprise  and open source software.  As an example,  IBM LinuxONE recently ported the Go programming language, which was developed by Google. Go is designed for building simple, reliable and efficient software, making it easier for developers to combine the software tools they know and love with the speed, security and scale offered by LinuxONE. IBM has begun contributing code to the Go community.   

SWIFT Language now runs on IBM LinuxONE. There are also new Hybrid Cloud capabilities in the product.  IBM has optimized its Cloudant and StrongLoop technologies for LinuxONE. The new features offer a highly scalable environment on Node.js, which enables developers to write applications for the server side using the language they prefer.

IBM Open Platform (IOP) is now available in 2016 for the IBM LinuxONE portfolio at no cost. IOP represents a broad set of industry standard Apache-based capabilities for analytics and big data. 

Beyond the technology enhancements, we now see customers further along with their LinuxONE deployment. Customers have reported economies of scale from consolidating their data on LinuxONE versus running server farms. What has been its biggest accomplishment?


  1. Marrying the openness, flexibility, and amazing innovation of Linux and open source software with the availability, scalability, security, and robustness of a platform like LinuxONE.  

  2. We’ve seen the competitive edge users have achieved with IBM LinuxONE.  With the IBM LinuxONE our customer ICU IT Services has helped businesses slash their IT costs by up to 50 percent. Why has a platform designed for open source workloads become necessary for the enterprise?

Mary: Our clients have made it clear that they need the innovation and creativity of the Open Source movement in an environment upon which they can “bet their business” (actual quote from a customer).

It’s essential to be able to run large enterprise workloads that scale reliably and efficiently.  LinuxONE is highly scalable and delivers unprecedented performance. It has the world’s fastest commercial microprocessor running at 5GHz, large memory pools, and 4 layers of cache. The shared memory, vertical scale architecture is vastly better for stateful workloads like databases and systems of record.

LinuxONE is designed to be more efficient for large, cache-intensive business workloads and those that require high I/O bandwidth. The LinuxONE server has massive I/O throughput with up to 640 dedicated I/O processors. It is designed to support tens of thousands of concurrent users, while delivering consistent sub-second end user response times. And it achieves those fast response times at up to 100% utilization, which simplifies the solution and reduces costs. What are the challenges with the open source cloud still?

Mary: Well, obviously, security remains a huge challenge in the cloud.  If users run an open source cloud on LinuxONE, they will have a level of enhanced security, that is built into the hardware.

Running cloud offerings on IBM LinuxONE  can help to meet stringent industry and compliance security requirements, especially in the banking industry.  LinuxONE provides isolation at every level — applications, containers, virtual servers, and partitions. LinuxONE features security capabilities built in to all elements of the system – unique capabilities such as dedicated cryptographic processors that are tamper proof. LinuxONE also has fully checked hardware and memory for data integrity. It delivers unmatched secure transaction throughput.

Another challenge in the cloud, is the restrictions on software, any kind of software including open-source software.  Users typically have little to no control over how software operates in the cloud.  With LinuxONE, users maintain complete control.  To maximize infrastructure investments in the public cloud requires in-house expertise in the cloud vendor’s offerings: from pricing, to redundancy, latency, disaster recovery, provisioning – if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can pay a very heavy price.  This expertise does not add value to the client – it is more of a cost of doing business in the cloud. What is the role of hybrid cloud as the enterprise transitions to containers and micro services architectures?

Mary: The transition to containers & services should make the hybrid cloud environment more agile, and give MSPs the ability to be more flexible and connect to more devices in the era of iOT. The leaders will be able to put the right workload in the right place at the right time for the right reasons – hybrid cloud is essential to providing that flexibility.  It also opens up new revenue streams as companies are able to expose services they’ve created for internal constituents to external clients.

Sign up to watch the live video stream from LinuxCon and ContainerCon 2016.