Q&A: Kavita Sehgal and Kara Todd Discuss Linux on IBM Z and Red Hat OpenShift
Kavita Sehgal and Kara Todd are experts in designing and deploying Hybrid Cloud solutions on IBM Z mainframes.
Sehgal is Program Director, Hybrid Cloud on IBM Z and LinuxONE. Todd is Director, Linux, IBM Z and LinuxONE. We spoke with them about the key differentiators for client value enabled by IBM Z, LinuxONE and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, and the way IBM’s technical and industry expertise have positioned the company for growth in the era of Hybrid Cloud and AI.
The IBM mainframe has been around for nearly 60 years, and has been running Linux for 20 years as of this month. What does the future hold for Linux on IBM Z?
Kavita Sehgal: IBM Z is the enterprise system of record, and our clients are seeking ways to optimize and modernize their IT partly through the creation of new, containerized applications. To make that happen, developers need a platform that’s “fit for purpose.” In other words, they need to be able to focus on creativity and innovation, not mechanics and protocols.
Using Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE gives developers the agility they crave, on a platform that’s modern, scalable, secure, reliable and compliant to the standards of governments and regulated industries. These differentiators are essential to any client who needs to run mission-critical workloads on the Hybrid Cloud, and who needs visibility into those workloads—whether on premise, on a private cloud or on a public cloud—so they can deploy AI to make the most of their data.
Kara Todd: Enterprise clients have at least three significant pain points when it comes to IT: data breaches; data overload (a lack of productive and actionable insights into massive amounts of structured and unstructured data); and the technical and industry-driven aspects of digital transformation and migration to the Hybrid Cloud.
In terms of the future, we will continue to invest in Confidential Computing. In the most recent hardware, we delivered Secure Execution to provide multi-tenant isolation for clients running hundreds or even thousands of virtual machines inside the same box. This marks our fourth generation of innovation in Confidential Computing. It’s an area where the market and our clients are extremely interested in deploying secure workloads.
As the amount of data in the world continues to increase exponentially, Linux on IBM Z is extremely well positioned to scale with our clients’ data processing needs, protect that data with unparalleled security and reliability, and provide operational flexibility in managing critical enterprise workloads.
Can you explain some of the specific advantages of Linux on IBM Z to readers who might not have a technical background?
Todd: Sure! A single IBM Z mainframe can handle one trillion secure web transactions per day, a truly groundbreaking achievement in scale. And this extreme scalability is paired with a laser focus on security.
To get the most business value, clients’ data must be well protected and managed in a way to enable meaningful insights into their business. Without those insights, handling a trillion transactions per day only serves to increase inefficiency at lightning speed. And without security, each and every one of those trillion transactions could end up serving as an unguarded door into a client’s most sensitive business information—including such things as customer passwords, financial data or medical records.
The IBM LinuxONE enterprise platform combined with Red Hat OpenShift delivers the one-two punch of security and operability that clients demand. LinuxONE is the world’s most secure data-serving platform. For example, Hyper Protect Virtual Servers (HPVS) provide a security foundation that protects data from both internal and external threats. Operators can manage the data, but they can’t see it. And our Data Privacy Passport is among several offerings that leverage HPVS to allow the encryption of data to travel with it wherever it goes.
Then, on top of LinuxONE—with all of its security and reliability—our clients can run Red Hat OpenShift, which gives them the agility and flexibility to develop the software they need and then run it on multiple clouds and on-premises machines. This is the essence of the Hybrid Cloud model: the ability to pull together all of the tools that a client already uses into a single control point that’s manageable, reliable, scalable and secure.
Let’s talk about industry expertise in addition to technical chops. What’s the IBM value proposition?
Todd: The value proposition around consolidating data and application server workloads is one of the top reasons clients move to Linux on Z and LinuxONE. The unparalleled security and scalability offered by the platform, including the HPVS security I mentioned earlier, is another strong key reason for clients to migrate to Linux on Z and LinuxONE.
Linux on Z and LinuxONE are also well positioned as clients are moving critical enterprise workloads to their hybrid-multi cloud, which require the utmost security and availability. All of this can happen because IBM is a trusted member of the open source community, along with Red Hat, SUSE, Canonical and many others. Being a longstanding member of the community, and having long-time partners, ensures that our clients are investing in a valuable ecosystem that will continue to support them as their needs change and grow.
Sehgal: IBM’s industry expertise is unmatched in the tech sector, and we’ve just doubled down on recognizing and promoting industry expertise with our newly created Distinguished Industry Leader designation. I’m an electrical engineer with an MBA and came over from the vendor supply side. And both Kara and I focus as intently on the business side and ecosystem development as we do on the technology side.
Our clients are counting on us for strategic guidance as they grow their workloads using Red Hat OpenShift. They know that IBM brings decades of global experience in business transformation to the table, which gives us unique insights into the complexities of the business and technology worlds. These can no longer be separated if a company wants to compete and grow.
We know that our clients want security, the ability to run an application layer (OpenShift) over a platform layer (LinuxONE), and the power to scale and consolidate on the same platform. Those needs are clear from the tech side. But from the business side, we also know that our clients want to add automation and incorporate consistent protocols for application development within their IT infrastructures. And the unique combination of IBM and Red Hat solutions enables us to help break down the barriers to adoption of IBM Z.
While some of our longstanding clients will still require specialized training for these installations, an increasing number of new clients are able to utilize OpenShift as the “single pane of glass” for visibility and control over their systems—with the advantage of not requiring specialized training.
Meanwhile, the technical advantages of Linux on Z—being cloud native, improved systems optimization and modernization, reduced latency with 7x improved response times by bringing containerized workloads closer to the data—all on the enterprise platform of record, make this the most exciting time in history to be working with the IBM mainframe.