Q. What level of hardware is required for z86VM?
A. An IBM System zEnterprise class server. At minimum a z114 or z196 or higher level.

Q. What operating systems can I run on z86VM?
A. At this point, only Linux has been successfully tested. We’re working to enable additional systems.  There are multiple levels of Linux. The Damn Small Linux (DSL)  2012 which is a desktop version and Small Medium Enterprise (SME) V8.1 Linux  which is a server system.

Q. What middleware is available to run on these Linux releases?
A. Basically, anything that is available on the x86 versions of these releases is available on these releases as well. To date, we’ve successfully tested on SME 8.1 with the LAMP Stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) and WordPress (which utilizes all of the components of the LAMP Stack). Our Customer Experiences pages will offer guidance on the use of these products.

Q. When will Windows be certified?
A. That’s a two step process. First we have to complete our own testing. Then we need to submit our test results to Microsoft for review. We hope that will be quick. When that Beta is ready, customer experience will help.

Q. When will 64 bit support be completed?
A. We believe there is sufficient function and performance in our 32 bit capabilities. We’ll see how well that is accepted before we make any commitment to 64 bit.

Q. a System z shop with a connected zBX cabinet can run x86 binaries natively on actual x86 cards. Other than z86VM being a lot cheaper, I assume, are there other advantages to the z86VM?
A. zBX supports x86 64 bit and z86VM has no plans to support 64 bit.  zBX is for server workloads only. They have no plans to support desktop systems. So having a mainframe console that requires more than a web browser or 3270 emulator, such as Tivoli Enterprise Portal Server, DB2 Control Center and other products from CA, BMC, ASG and Rocket would require yet another PC or two, beyond the zBX. And how would you fail them over to another platform and how do you manage the security of those PC’s? And then there is the RDz functionality that runs on a PC with Windows. That’s a fantastic program, but it requires a lot of hardware. It requires extra financial justification. What if that could fit within a z guest running Windows? Could we change the economics and simplify the deployment model for app dev targeting the mainframe? We certainly hope so. But we haven’t proven that yet, because it requires Windows. And we presently have a bug in our Plug and Play BIOS processing that is inhibiting Windows from booting…we’ll get there soon, though! And then, who knows 🙂

Q. Can I migrate easily from VMWare to z/VM?
A. We anticipate that a VMDK file that defines a virtual guest under VMWare will migrate as easily as a cut and paste function into z/VM. Stay tuned!

Q. how does z86VM stack up against other System z PC emulators like Hercules and even IBM’s own zPDT?
A. Hercules and zPDT are mainframe emulators that run on PC’s. This is the opporsite – z86VM runs PC instructions on the mainframe.

Q. What’s different from Linuz for System z?
A. We are not aware of a desktop operating system running there. No need for vendors to port their software to z, since the x86 binaries will run. But let’s not make this about commoditization of the mainframe. Let’s start with making the mainframe better, in particular z/OS, zTPF and zVSE. At minimum, they require a 3270 emulator to act as a “green screen” oriented operators console. If you want to leverage a better graphically enabled console, you must have a PC with software, such as DB2 Control Center, Tivoli Enterprise Portal Server or products from other vendors like CA, ASG, BMC or Rocket. That PC needs to be managed and secured. Well, now, that PC could actually run within System z and then a stateless connection can be made to remotely display it on a thin client, a simple PC, a smart phone. It totally changes the operations model for security and resilience of that mainframe “helper” app and allows the mainframe to host it’s parts.

Q. Could this be a better implementation of a PC operating system without the PC hardware?
A. It’s not about replacing desktops or saying it’s a better x86 than x86 (reminding us of an unsuccessful marketing campaign that said MVS Unix System Services is a better UNIX than UNIX – why stick a needle in someone’s eye?). No, our first approach/goal is to make the mainframe more consumable. To help eliminate some of the asterick’s around the mainframe and bring it to a whole new audience.

Q. How fast is this compared to a native x86 implementation?
A. On an individual application basis, such as a SPECint benchmark, z86VM will be slower. However, in aggregate, with multiple workloads running simultaneously on System z, we expect the aggregrate throughput to be better than VMWare.  We will publish our benchmark results prior to production or general availability of z86VM.

Q. Why would I use what seems to be an older 32 bit operating system on z86VM instead of a 64 bit OS on an Intel based server?
A. Because it works and it can save a business money from migrating to a new operating system.

Q. How much is a backup copy of z86VM on a zEnterprise Capacity Backup server?
A. Like other software running in an IBM CBU image, it will have no charge. Similar terms and conditions will be provided that allow for regular testing of the backup images as well.

Q. When will z86VM be generally available?
A. Mantissa has a 30 year history of delivering quality offerings on System z. This will be no different. Once we have satisfied customers with our beta releases, we will make the product generally available. We’re happy to add new customers to the Beta now.

Q. We’ve heard about STASH – Smart Terminal Architcture with Secure Hosts….does z86VM enhance that offering?
A. The goal of STASH is to deliver thin client solutions (or stateless computer connections) to enterprise servers. The initial STASH offerings leveraged Blade servers to host the desktops. Leveraging z86VM on System z is expected to dramatically reduce the server infrastructure necessary to host thin clients or virtual desktop infrastructure.  With this latest version of the Beta, we believe we can start testing for VDI functionality. We’ll post more once we get some experience.

Q. How many desktops can I support on z86VM simultaneously?
A. We expect well over 1000. Stay tuned for an update.

Q. What’s the largest server image I can run on z86vM?
A. Let us know how big you’d like it to be and we’ll do some testing toward meeting your needs.

Q. Do you have plans for the ARM architecture?
A. We don’t have committed plans at this time. However, we have lots of good ideas and it would appear that would be a reasonable next step.

Q. What do you expect to include in your next release of z86VM?
A. Let us know how you like the first release and we’ll tell you more about our plans.

Q. Does IBM support or sell z86VM on System zEnterprise?
A. At this time, neither IBM nor Mantissa have discussed a reseller relationship. As an IBM Business Partner, we have an excellent relationship with IBM and don’t believe there is any reason for that to change.