Financial services company ING Group has joined the list of large companies using the Linux operating system as a low-cost way to upgrade IT infrastructure, having bought a Linux-powered IBM zSeries mainframe to replace several older machines.
The deal, announced last week, is a significant win for IBM, with the top-end zSeries systems often selling for more than $1m (about £630,000). The purchase adds to the growing credibility of Linux as a high-end replacement for Unix in mission-critical systems. ZSeries servers also run IBM's own z/OS and VM operating systems.
The server will be used to support several of ING's applications, which are accessed by the company's network of 2,800 independent brokers across Canada. The company has about 4 million Canadian customers and is the country's largest property and casualty insurer, also supplying banking and investment services.
The mainframe will run a number of virtual servers on one machine, allowing it to handle the tasks of several older systems. The virtual servers can be created and erased as needed, giving the company added flexibility. "The services offered by IBM allow us to consolidate our systems and increase operational efficiency," said Louis Cyr, vice president of infrastructure services for ING Canada.
IBM has been attempting to push its mainframes into the mainstream, extending their traditional capabilities while trying to make them more relevant to the current state of technology. One new mainframe feature that bolsters the plan, for example, is "on-off capacity on demand", which lets a customer temporarily fire up unused processors and pay a one-off fee.