Startup Takes Aim at IBM’s Mainframe Gravy Train

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A Swiss startup is aiming to take a big bite out of IBM’s cash-cow mainframe business by offering CIOs a potentially lower-cost and open alternative. If LzLabs lives up to its promise, this could be the biggest thing to happen to the staid world of mainframe computing for many years.

At the Cebit exhibiton in Hannover, Germany today, LzLabs unveiled what it calls the “Software-Defined Mainframe”: a way to run mainframe software on a commodity x86 server running Red Hat Linux or in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Both of those companies announced partnerships with LzLabs.

Lz says it has created container software to run mainframe online, batch, database, and other services without the need for mainframe hardware or any rewriting of code. If it is successful, the company could make a huge difference to the way large enterprises conduct business as, although considered a datacentre dinosaur by some, the mainframe still accounts for a substantial percentage of the world’s most critical processes and transactions. One analyst recently estimated that mainframes generate about a fifth of IBM’s pre-tax profits.

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