If you’re running (or plan to run) Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) for LinuxONE or for IBM Z, Red Hat offers compelling reasons to upgrade at least some of your Linux guests to RHEL 7.5, announced and available this week. Here are some highlights.

Red Hat now supports RHEL running under the KVM hypervisor for LinuxONE and Z, and of course you can still run RHEL under z/VM and “natively” within LPARs. To operate in a Red Hat supported way you must run your RHEL 7.5 KVM guests using the kernel-alt packages, a.k.a. “Structure A,” which updates the kernel to 4.14. Stefan Raspl explains a bit more here.

Also, with the 7.5 “Structure A” release, RHEL supports the new Guarded Storage Facility (GSF) instructions in the IBM z14 (including ZR1 model), LinuxONE Emperor II, and LinuxONE Rockhopper II machines. This support within the Linux operating system is a prerequisite for Pause-less Garbage Collection in Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) for Linux, presumably coming soon in a 64-bit JVM releases for Linux on LinuxONE/Z. Pause-less GC apparently won’t be relevant to 31-bit JVMs because their heap sizes cannot be “too large” for these purposes.

RHEL 7.5 Structure A also provides the ingredients required for pervasive encryption with protected keys.

There’s more, of course. You can check out the full 7.5 release notes for details.

Somehow I missed the news that Visara announced an itty bitty (2U size) FICON-attached DASD (disk storage) unit: the Visara Vi-8810L. Visara also has a line of virtual tape products. They all seem to tick a lot of boxes for those organizations looking for small physical form factor storage options for z/OS, especially.

IBM discontinued its IBM DS6800 (3U size) DASD some time ago, so it’s nice to see Visara trying to fill this niche. And it’s really a form factor issue, when it exists. The IBM DS8884 is superb, and it has better economics than the DS6800 ever did.

It’s July 17, 2017. Happy New Mainframe Day, everyone!

Like clockwork, at about 12:01 a.m. New York time, IBM issued this press release to kick off New Mainframe Day. I’ll have more details and comments to offer in due course. In the meantime, it’s clear what IBM is emphasizing: security. The new IBM z14 is designed to encrypt everything, all the time, in multi-layered fashion. The world is far more dangerous than ever, with businesses (and arguably even some governments) literally dying because of security breaches. This new machine hugely helps.

If you have a mainframe, fantastic! Please keep it current. Use it more effectively and more fully to protect your business (or government) from current and emerging threats. ┬áPut your mainframe in full charge of protecting your organization’s vital information and associated information services. And get on board the IBM z14 as soon as you can.

If you don’t have a mainframe, now’s the time to take a fresh look if you want to survive. That might be a mainframe in the cloud (such as IBM’s High Security Business Network for Blockchain) or in a hybrid cloud deployment. Either way, IBM Z is a big part of the answer to the world’s information security calamities.