z86VM Beta 3 is now available

Mantissa is delivering the third beta of its new z86VM offering targeting the cloud deployment of x86 servers and desktops on IBM System z mainframes. This free version of the z86VM beta includes performance enhancements in the x86 instruction set and file system as well as bug fixes developed since Beta 2 shipped in September 2013.

The z86VM offering is a rather simple deployment of a complex operating system. The product itself consists of two modules, one for Input/Output processing and one for processing the instructions. Combined with a simple profile to create “virtual x86 hardware containers”, the system can be installed and running in less than an hour.

Beta 3 includes two pre-configured operating systems. The first, Damn Small Linux, was originally shipped in Beta 1 and has been updated for Beta 3 to simplify human factors. The second includes Small to Medium Enterprise Linux V8.1. Beta 2 included SME V7.6. There are many new applications and middleware included in this SME release, including Apache, MySQL and PHP, known as the LAMP Stack and WordPress. Beta documentation will explain how to clone an existing WordPress website and move it to z86VM. Mantissa tested this by successfully cloning its own mantissa.com to get it operational on z86VM.

 Solving Customer Problems

The true value of z86VM is what a business might do to simplify its IT operations through the creative exploitation of operating systems running on z86VM. Going forward, Mantissa will be splitting its focus between preparing z86VM for production operations and demonstrating simplified ways to leverage x86 operating systems in concert with the mainframe. For example, there are Federal government customers that have one systems integrator managing mainframe systems and another integrator managing PC or x86 based systems. In order to “modernize operations” of the mainframe the systems integrators must collaborate. Well, that doesn’t happen very often, so the mainframe integrator is relegated to “legacy” command line operations. This is also true with commercial businesses. Internal bureaucracy may inhibit collaboration and integration. With z86VM, a “virtual PC” container can be installed on the mainframe by the mainframe IT organization. They can then simplify their operations by exploiting new graphic management applications from IBM and other software vendors. Another example is the mainframe IT organization can host a wiki, website or portal for internal use without the need to port the applications. Existing, off the shelf, x86 software can now run unmodified on the mainframe, bringing a much larger arsenal of applications and middleware to that platform.

 Looking forward with z86VM

Mantissa’s z86VM provides a 32 bit virtual x86 environment which cannot be distinguished by software from real x86 hardware. That means operating systems, like Linux for x86 or Windows®, will run without alteration under IBM z/VM, the most secure, scalable virtualization environment available. The most important aspect of this virtual operating environment is that no changes are required to move 32 bit x86 operating systems and applications to the z86VM environment.

“Internally, we’ve enjoyed some success through the use of the LAMP Stack, WordPress and the DSL desktop offerings. We’ve documented those use cases to make it simpler for our beta customers to try them as well. But we’ve got a long list of things to try going forward. z/OS management consoles, virtual desktops using NX client, SPICE and RDP connections, File servers and print servers are just some examples of what we believe can simplify operations for our customers. ”, said Gary Dennis, co-Founder, Mantissa. “We want to demonstrate the same end user and management of x86 systems while leveraging the integration with existing mainframe operating systems and the operational value of IBM System z mainframes, such as security, resilience and capacity management ”.

 Beta3 Objectives

Mantissa would like to continue to expand the number of customers in the beta. Mantissa will work closer with these customers to experiment with x86 applications and workloads that integrate with traditional mainframe operating systems. Mantissa will continue to improve z86VM performance and capabilities in preparation for general availability. Future beta releases are expected to include trial versions of Microsoft Windows, with a goal of providing full spectrum consolidation and cloud computing support. Pricing information will be available with the announcement of general availability.

 Beta3 participation

Getting started with z86VM is easy. Businesses running Linux for System z are already running the IBM z/VM hypervisor. Minimal user and networking definition is required and from that point, z86VM can be quickly deployed. Further information and documentation is provided on request. In order to become a beta participant, email z86VM@mantissa.com and place “z86VM Beta” in the subject line. Preferably, you should sign up using the contact form below.

We’ve released the beta because we wanted to learn from you, the customer, what is good and bad and also to check our documentation, identify any restrictions in the code and capture new product requirements. We have found it is capable of doing some very interesting demos as to possibilities for how it can be used in the future.  We are concerned about expectations for our product. We know we have performance and quality work to do before it becomes generally available. We ask that you understand that.
We would like to make the beta a good experience for you. We may ship additional beta’s with new functions, fixes and performance enhancements. If you want to show someone a demo because you think it is “cool”, “exciting”, “the future”, or any other kind words, that would be wonderful.   We ask that you not show nor publish any performance data associated with your experience in the beta, without permission from Mantissa. We are not done developing the product yet and we hope to further improve the experience. That’s also why we have no published nor target general availability date yet. We will not release the code until it meets our own expectations.

If you don’t feel that you can adhere to the spirit of our beta, please don’t request to participate.

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