“The mainframe has always stood for four guiding principles: availability, scalability, security and performance from the introduction of the mainframe in 1964 on through to today,” says John Mertic of the Open Mainframe Project.

As of last year, the Linux operating system was running 90 percent of public cloud workloads; has 62 percent of the embedded market share and runs all of the supercomputers in the TOP500 list, according to The Linux Foundation Open Mainframe Project’s 2018 State of the Open Mainframe Survey report.

Despite a perceived bias that mainframes are behemoths that are costly to run and unreliable, the findings also revealed that more than nine in 10 respondents have an overall positive attitude about mainframe computing.

The project conducted the survey to better understand use of mainframes in general. “If you have this amazing technology, with literally the fastest commercial CPUs on the planet, what are some of the barriers?” said John Mertic, director of program management for the foundation and Open Mainframe Project. “The driver was, there wasn’t any hard data around trends on the mainframe.”

Cloud vs. Mainframe

Respondents were asked how they view cloud computing in comparison to mainframes, “and overwhelmingly, they said it’s going to augment the mainframe and not replace it,’’ Mertic says. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they are using cloud in addition to the mainframe, while 15 percent said cloud is replacing the mainframe.  

This parallels the rest of industry, he says, noting that “everything’s going hybrid. You’re going to have some degree of private cloud, public cloud, some SaaS, some IoT solutions — and the mainframe fits in there. Isn’t it great we have a menu of choices in architecture, and that they complement each other.”

In terms of security, only five percent of overall respondents said cloud solutions are at least as secure as mainframes, which Mertic said surprised him the most. Even among self-identified cloud users, only six percent agreed that cloud is at least as secure as mainframes.

“These are people who feel cloud is the future, but then say, ‘Wow, if security is a top priority, cloud isn’t there compared to mainframe, which is still far more secure,’’’ he said. “That surprised us, especially among people who self-identified as being on the cloud bandwagon.”

General findings include:

  • Both users and non-users of Linux on the mainframe agree on the mainframe platforms strengths of performance, security, and cost reduction.
  • Cloud computing is perceived to augment the mainframe, not replace it.
  • Mainframe will continue to have a key role in a hybrid computing world.

More specifically:

  • 28 respondents said cloud solutions are significantly less costly to implement, compared to 31 percent of self-identified cloud users.
  • 47 percent of respondents said cloud solutions provide much greater flexibility in adding power or scalability, compared to 52 percent of self-identified cloud users.
  • 15 percent of both self-identified cloud users and overall respondents said that over the long run, cloud solutions are far less expensive to maintain, while 57 percent of general respondents disagreed with that, compared to 59 percent of self-identified cloud users.

Standing the Test of Time

Key workloads for Linux on the mainframe are application servers, database servers and data analytics, Mertic says. Even though IT infrastructure has changed compared to what it was 10, 15 and 20 years ago, the mainframe has withstood the test of time, he says.

“The mainframe has always stood for four guiding principles: availability, scalability, security and performance from the introduction of the mainframe in 1964 on through to today,” Mertic says. “IT in 2018 has tons of choices, and if a first-class open source platform with those guiding principles are what your organization requires at a ‘10’ level, then modern mainframe is an architecture you should consider.”

The survey of 145 mainframe professionals was conducted between Aug. and Oct. 2017.

Stay tuned for part two of the Open Mainframe Project survey in the fall, which will provide broader insights into how the general IT market views the modern mainframe.

Atomic Rules has been providing Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) design services and interconnection network solutions since 2008. In April, they joined The Linux Foundation to further their commitment to open source and to support and participate in the DPDK project, which provides a programming framework that enables faster development of high-speed data packet networking applications.

Additionally, Atomic Rules recently released Arkville, a DPDK-aware tool that provides a high-throughput connection, or conduit, between FPGA hardware and GPP (general purpose processor) software. According to the company, Arkville was designed with the specific goal of accelerating and empowering DPDK.

In this interview, Shep Siegel, founder of Atomic Rules, provides more information about the company’s products and services. What does Atomic Rules do?

Shep Siegel: Atomic Rules have been providing FPGA design services since 2008. We’re experts in reconfigurable computing with FPGAs and provide our clients with effective solutions to problems involving interconnection networks and reconfigurable computing. Our practice employs scalable, rule-based methods to tackle complex concurrency among heterogeneous processors.


Shep Siegel

Shep Siegel, Founder of Atomic Rules

In 2014, we began augmenting services with IP Core products. Our first product was a UDP Offload Engine operating at 10, 25, 40, 50, 100 or 400 GbE. Today, we are launching a new product named Arkville, which is a DPDK-aware FPGA/GPP data mover that helps offload server cycles to FPGA gates. It is this new product that made it important for us to be part of the Linux Foundation.

How and why do you use Linux and open source?

Siegel: Linux and open source democratize the development process through API, ABI, and Interface standardization. We love the idea of common, open interfaces where everyone can then compete on quality of implementation.

Why did you join The Linux Foundation and the DPDK project?

Siegel: The Linux Foundation amplifies the openness and legitimacy of over a decade of DPDK development. By becoming a Linux Foundation member, our contributions will help the community flourish.

What interesting or innovative trends in your industry are you witnessing and what role do Linux and open source play in them?  

Siegel: Linux and open source have catalyzed architectural innovation in the form of heterogeneous compute and communication. The frontiers once dividing the main families of processing devices available to systems architects (FPGA, DSP, GPP, etc.) are getting easier to cross, thanks to an expanding ecosystem of communication bridges allowing data movement from one type of processor to another more easily, at faster line rate, and with less latency.

How is your company participating in that innovation?

Siegel: By introducing Arkville, Atomic Rules is enabling Linux DPDK applications that seek acceleration in a software-first fashion to offload server cycles to FPGA gates. This allows project managers to bring their product to market faster and focus on differentiating their product by not having to re-invent a GPP/FPGA packet mover.

How has participating in the Linux and open source communities changed your company?

Siegel: It has reinforced one of our guiding aphorisms, “Interface before Implementation”!

Is there anything else important or upcoming that you’d like to share?

Siegel: Our Arkville launch brings five man-years of DPDK-first, software-first passion to market. If Linux kernel bypass matters to you, and if you are looking for a solution to offload server cycles to FPGA gates, please give it a look and tell us what you think!

Learn more about Linux Foundation corporate membership and see a full list of members at

Read More:

The Companies That Support Linux and Open Source: Pinterest

The Companies That Support Linux and Open Source: VMware

The Companies That Support Linux and Open Source: Hart

We’re pleased to kick off 2017 by announcing that JanusGraph, a scalable graph database project, is joining The Linux Foundation. The project is starting with an initial codebase based on the Titan graph database project. Today we see strong interest in the project among developers who are looking to bring the graph database together, as well as support from organizations such as Expero, Google, GRAKN.AI, Hortonworks, IBM and others. We look forward to working with them to help create a path forward for this exciting project.

Several members of the JanusGraph community, including developers from Expero, GRAKN.AI and IBM, will be at Graph Day Texas this weekend and invite discussion about the project.

JanusGraph is able to support thousands of concurrent users in real time. Its features include elastic and linear scalability, data distribution and replication for performance and fault tolerance, high availability and hot backups, integration with big data platforms such as Apache Spark, Apache Giraph and Apache Hadoop, and more.

To get learn more and get involved, visit

This week in Linux and OSS news, Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member; a powerful move that signifies its commitment to open source, 498 out of 500 supercomputers run Linux, and more! This week was a big one for open source. Make sure you’re caught up with our weekly digest.

1) Microsoft has joined The Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member, ushering in a new era of open source community building.

Microsoft Goes Linux Platinum, Welcomes Google To .NET Foundation– Forbes

Microsoft—Yes, Microsoft—Joins The Linux Foundation– Ars Technica

2) “With 498 out of 500 supercomputers running Linux, it is evident that this operating system provides the capability and security such machines direly need.”

Nearly Every Top 500 Supercomputer Runs On Linux– The Merkle

3) The Core Infrastructure Initiative renews financial support for The Reproducible 

Builds Project, which ensures binaries produced from open source software projects are tamper-free.

Linux Foundation Doubles Down on Support for Tamper-Free Software– InfoWorld

4) Beyond it’s cost-effectiveness, officials around the world view it as a means of speeding up innovation in the public sector.

Open Source in Government IT: It’s About Savings But That’s Not the Whole Story– ZDNet

5) Enter key vulnerability reveals “major Linux security hole gaps.”

Press the Enter Key For 70 Seconds To Bypass Linux Disk Encryption Authentication– TechWorm