SUSE virtual appliances prepped for the mainframe

Attachmate has launched SUSE as a separate business unit and launched its first update

In its first SUSE-related product offering since it acquired Novell earlier last year, Attachmate has expanded the reach of SUSE Studio-based virtual appliances to include mainframes.

"With this tool, you do not need a mainframe expert to build a mainframe tool," said Sabine Soellheim, Attachmate senior marketing manager for appliances and solutions. As an alternative, mainframe software could be packaged in a virtual appliance with the new version of SUSE Studio.

The company has also set up a separate business unit for its SUSE-related products, establishing the standalone SUSE.com website.

The new release of SUSE Studio, version 1.2, includes the ability to create virtual appliances for IBM z series mainframes. The capability is only available on the advanced version of the product, which is standalone software. The online edition of SUSE Studio has been updated as well, though it does not include the mainframe capability.

SUSE Studio is a Linux image creation and management tool, one suited for building out virtual appliances, or virtual machines containing one or more applications that can be easily deployed in a virtual environment. Software vendors may prefer to package their applications as virtual appliances because it minimizes the end user's installation time, because all the settings are already configured for the operating system environment.

Overall, SUSE Studio has more than 154,000 users who have built 810,230 virtual appliances, according to Attachmate.

The support for mainframes came about in response to customer demand, Soellheim said. Until now, administrators could only build virtual appliances in SUSE Studio for x86-based servers.

Organizations may want to create virtual appliances for a number of reasons, Soellheim explained. They may want their applications to enjoy the performance boost that a mainframe could offer. Also, the virtual appliance format simplifies the deployment of new applications.

Lastly, packaging a mainframe application as a virtual appliance using SUSE Studio might be the first step in porting that application off the mainframe, a possible benefit for organizations wishing to cut the costs of maintaining their mainframe machines.

With this release, Attachmate does not offer cross-platform capability for virtual appliances: Those appliances built for x86 servers will still need to be modified to run on a mainframe environment. But it minimizes the amount of work needed to be done to prepare a mainframe application for deployment. "Mainframe [administrators] who normally don't look at x86 can build an application for x86," Soellheim said.

This release of SUSE Studio is also the first release for the new business unit Attachmate launched, called SUSE, to handle the SUSE-related products and services. Novell acquired SUSE Linux in 2004. SUSE offered a namesake Linux distribution, a version of which was built to run on IBM mainframes.

The SUSE.com site will hold all the SUSE-related material that used to reside on the Novell.com site.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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