Connor Krukosky, an 18 year old college student, has installed an IBM z890 mainframe in his parents’ basement in Maryland. He posted some photos of his personal mainframe, and at last report (on IBM-MAIN) he has successfully booted Linux on z and can connect. His next task is to get some disk storage attached and working. You can follow his progress on the IBM-MAIN list.

Connor reports that he paid $237 for his mainframe, a capacity model 320 (approximately 120 PCIs according to IBM’s LSPR table). That means that Connor’s z890 has 3 of its 4 main processor cores configured as CPs, and CPs are technically capable of running any workloads, including Linux. It’s possible the 4th core is configured as some other engine type, though that’s unclear at this point. The z890 was available with anywhere from 8GB to 32GB of main memory, so Connor should have plenty of memory to support his personal mainframe workloads. It’s unclear exactly what I/O adapters he has installed in his particular machine, but the z890 was available with 2Gbps FICON/FCP and 10Gbps Ethernet.

IBM introduced the z890 in 2004 and halted new z890 sales in 2007. The z800 was its predecessor, and the z9BC was its successor. One of the reasons Connor likely got a great price on his used z890 is because z/OS 1.13 is the last release of z/OS compatible with this model. There are still some Linux distributions compatible with the z890, however.

IBM introduced its new LinuxONE systems this week, to widespread applause. They’re the world’s most massively scalable, reliable, and secure Linux servers, quite simply. A single LinuxONE machine can handle about 8,000 VMs and tens of thousands of Docker containers, for example. That’s important because there are many applications and information systems, particularly those involving analytics, that really don’t run well on smaller servers. Some applications take days or weeks to run on large numbers of smaller servers when they can run in hours or minutes on the new LinuxONE servers.

Then there are economic factors. It’s often, typically a heck of a lot less expensive to run one or a couple servers than it is to run hundreds or thousands, even when the software is “free.” Simplicity is powerful…and affordable. I also like how IBM is offering these machines even when you get one on premises: nothing to pay up front, then pay for what you use over 36 months. Subject to a simple minimum, of course. That’s exactly like public clouds and volume discounts — but on premises if you prefer.

Canonical is bringing Ubuntu to these new LinuxONE systems, joining Novell SuSE and Red Hat that are already there. Ubuntu Linux distributions are also getting popular, particularly in public clouds and in client devices (point of sale, kiosks, customer service desktops, etc.) More official options are good to have, obviously.

IBM explains more in this video.

Kenya Power, Kenya’s national electricity distributor and retailer, has recently taken delivery of a new IBM zEnterprise mainframe to run its first data warehouse, business intelligence, analytics, and forecasting applications. Kenya Power thus becomes the first zEnterprise customer in all of East Africa.

It’s a beautiful day in Nairobi today, and I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled about this big step forward Kenya Power is taking on their journey to deliver reliable, clean electricity more efficiently. KP selected the most powerful, most capable, most reliable, and most secure analytics solution to help them continuously improve their business. For the first time KP’s managers will see a current, single view of their business in unified dashboards, even when they’re out in the field using mobile devices.

IBM’s Colin Page and I, along with Symphony, spent literally years working with Kenya Power to design and to refine the best, most innovative solution to meet or exceed their current and future needs. (And a score of individuals then worked/are working, sometimes round the clock, to meet KP’s February, 2015, in-service goal for their first BI services.) We arrived at a solution architecture that is at once elegantly simple and extraordinarily powerful: the IBM zEnterprise Analytics System 9710 tailored to KP’s specific needs. Everything Kenya Power needs to improve their business insight dramatically runs on their new, mission-critical zEnterprise zBC12 server.

Their server is equipped with 4 types of main processors: CPs, a zIIP, IFLs, and an ICF. They’re running z/OS 2.1 and DB2 11 for z/OS on the CPs and zIIP. They’ll use their ICF to take advantage of DB2 data sharing in the near future to support continuous service data warehousing and business intelligence. On the same machine they run IBM InfoSphere DataStage to extract, transform, and load data regularly and frequently from a variety of data sources (billing, the grid, financial planning, etc.) into their new DB2 for z/OS data warehouse. Some real time and near real time feeds into their enterprise warehouse, particularly from the grid, are planned. They also use InfoSphere QualityStage to cleanse data properly, a critical part of gaining better business insight. IBM Cognos Business Intelligence provides reporting, dashboards, and mobile services for securely accessing their warehouse from Nairobi and from across the country, out in the field. Before long well over 1,000 employees will be using this new analytics and reporting system. They also have IBM SPSS Modeler to help a few KP business planners predict trends and recommend next best actions for the organization to serve its clients better. Yes, all of these advanced capabilities run on zEnterprise, with z/VM and Linux.

They also have the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) powered by Netezza technology. Thus Kenya Power joins the world’s most cutting edge customers in being able to process complex, long-running business intelligence queries in seconds rather than hours or days. It’s no exaggeration to say that IDAA is revolutionizing what businesses can do with their enterprise data, dramatically raising their business performance based on quick, current, actionable insight.

The IBM DS8870 Enterprise Storage System provides Kenya Power with the reliable, high performance storage space they need to grow and the option to add much more in the future.

Kenya Power has now embarked on a journey to transform and to modernize nearly all of its business operations. We’ll continue to work with Kenya Power to achieve even greater efficiencies (including reducing their own data center’s electric power consumption) and to add new capabilities and applications to their already world class infrastructure.

Thank you, Kenya Power, and welcome to the mainframe family.

Kenya Power Sign