The bank, one of Venezuela's largest, will move tasks currently running on 30 Windows NT servers onto a mainframe running Linux, IBM said. Customers checking account information over the Internet also will be using the mainframe's services.
In a second phase, the bank will move functions currently running on Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems Unix servers to the mainframe.
IBM is using Linux to rejuvenate the decades-old mainframe line, which still is respected despite its age, dwindling sales and steep price tags. Internet software packages are available for Linux, a clone of Unix, and numerous programmers are using Linux.
IBM is in the midst of a $1 billion effort to promote and improve Linux. Big Blue is spreading Linux across all four of its server lines.
Banco Mercantil is using the version of Linux from Germany's SuSE, widely regarded as the second most influential Linux software seller after Red Hat.