Running MongoDB and Other Open Source Apps on the Mainframe


Open source software is increasingly becoming available on the mainframe.  MongoDB is among the most popular of several programs supporting Linux for mainframe. Yes, the mainframe. Surprisingly to some, mainframe computing is still in heavy use in large organizations. Indeed, 92 of the top 100 banks still run critical data on the mainframe, as do many top retailers, airlines and government organizations.

But that’s not to say that over all these years, mainframe computing has remained the same. Earlier it was primarily run over IBM’s own z/OS operating system with databases such as DB2 and IMS, but also with a smattering of other vendor products such as CA’s and their IDMS and Datacom offerings. However, over the past several years, there has been a mainstream shift to Linux on the mainframe, and that trend is continuing.

Initially, cost was driving this shift but it wasn’t long before flexibility and a strong community became equally compelling to the Fortune 500 set and academic organizations as well.

And so it is that mainframe computing is not only still relevant, but thriving, particularly with Linux. It’s also a lucrative career option for those with the open source chops.

The shift from RDBMS to open source apps for mainframe

Before the shift to Linux, mainframe users turned to the traditional RDBMS offerings such as Oracle and DB2. After the shift, users looked increasingly to open source apps, such as MongoDB.

Among the many fans and supporters of open source on mainframes is the Open Mainframe Project, a Linux Foundation effort aimed at increasing deployment and use of the Linux OS in mainframe computing. Members are eagerly embracing the shift to Linux and open source apps.

Member organizations include ADP, SUSE, CA, Marist College, Velocity Software, RSM Partners, and IBM, all of which see open source as vital to their success. In turn, members are working through the Open Mainframe Project to help build — and to contribute to — a strong and vibrant community working to advance open source in mainframe environments.

Why MongoDB specifically?

MongoDB made the move to support Linux running on the mainframe in 2013. The one-two-three punch of MongoDB’s innovative features combined with the impressive performance of Linux on mainframe added to that computing form’s muscle in scalability delivered a knock out performance in new levels of availability, security, speed, scale and flexibility.

It also helped that MongoDB’s NoSQL technology ditches the overhead of object-relational mapping. That unique setup allows developers to rapidly create and deploy modern applications since there’s no need to define a data schema first and struggle with its restrictions later.

In general, MongoDB is the heavy favorite for projects where traditional RDBMS options are too costly, or where flexibility of the data model is a critical consideration. MongoDB on mainframe systems is popular for these same reasons plus several more, including:

  • High-performance data serving, scalable to billions of interactions;

  • Reduced overhead since it achieves vertical scale through increased capacity rather than the alternative which is horizontally scaling by sharding the data;

  • Higher levels of security and resilience.

In short, MongoDB and other open source apps offer distinct and quantifiable advantages on Linux for mainframe systems that organizations find compelling not only for immediate competitive advantage but for the future as well.

For more technical details and a performance comparison on running MongoDB on the mainframe, download the Open Mainframe Project’s tech brief.