Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE

September 14th, 2020 Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE
Andy Hartman
Senior Consultant


There have been some very impressive new features and improvements made over the last several years to IBM Z and IBM LinuxONE that make it an ideal platform for enterprise computing. One of the newer capabilities is not a new hardware feature but the ability to deploy cloud native applications on Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE. This means containerized applications based on Linux can be run on the industry’s best hardware platform for business-critical workloads. With cloud native development, continuous integration, and continuous development becoming the preferred way to develop new applications and refactor existing applications, the ability to run your entire cloud deployment on a small number of servers that can be expanded dynamically to meet your growing needs is a major milestone.


What Does Kubernetes Do?

Kubernetes is a container orchestrator, that is, it allows you to manage large numbers of individual microservices or small applications that are run within containers. Containers allow you to isolate your application from the underlying hardware and operating system. The container image, which is what the container is built from, includes all the libraries and configuration files along with the application code necessary to run that specific application and does not require the underlying operating system to meet specific software requirements for your application. In very small environments such as development and test, you may be able to manage a few of these containers with just a container runtime environment such as Docker. But as these containers grow in number and complexity, you will need a way to manage all these containers programmatically and with built-in intelligence to help automate the operation and management of these large environments that make up your cloud platform.

Kubernetes is a major open source technology that underpins many organizations’ cloud computing efforts. Kubernetes provides an environment for infrastructure management that runs controller and worker nodes. These nodes are run on top of physical or virtual servers. On LinuxONE and IBM Z, these servers run on virtual machines under z/VM and are usually spread across several lpars and even multiple LinuxONE or IBM Z physical servers depending on high-availability requirements. The nodes support many containerized applications that provide various services and infrastructure support for your application containers that run on worker nodes. These worker nodes are controlled by the controller nodes to ensure that there are enough resources and enough replicas of your application to run based on your requirements that you described to Kubernetes when you deployed your application.

Kubernetes provides many basic services and can have add-on services configured to create a fully production-ready container orchestrator to allow you to easily manage the lifecycle of your container deployments. There are many different types of components and each of these may have many competing open source solutions that can be configured to accomplish a specific task. For example, you can configure monitoring or logging with whichever open source project satisfies your need. The point is that you will have to build and configure all these components, and this can become very time consuming and hard to manage. This is where Red Hat OpenShift comes in and can significantly reduce the time and complexity of deploying a production-ready cluster.


Red Hat OpenShift with Kubernetes – Made Easy with IBM Cloud Paks

Red Hat OpenShift enhances Kubernetes by putting all the needed components together to run a production cluster. Think of Red Hat OpenShift as being an enterprise-class Kubernetes implementation. Red Hat OpenShift brings a completely tested stack together with support and functionality that is easy to implement, upgrade, and manage. All the components that make up the cluster from the Linux operating system (CoreOS) to the user interface are tested and supported by Red Hat and IBM to enable you to deploy your applications into a highly available, resilient, and production-grade Kubernetes environment. Red Hat OpenShift adds components like security features, automated upgrades, monitoring, logging, secure registry, and various operators to make deploying and managing your applications easier and more resilient. IBM adds Cloud Paks on top of Red Hat OpenShift to make it very easy to deploy both open source solutions and IBM enterprise middleware, databases, and software to help you create a production-ready environment for your applications.


Cloud in a Box: IBM Z and LinuxONE with OpenShift

IBM Z and LinuxONE are ideal servers for a Kubernetes / Red Hat OpenShift cluster because of the scalability, reliability, and cost effectiveness of this platform. Combining Red Hat OpenShift and LinuxONE or IBM Z basically gives you a cloud-in-a-box solution. In a hybrid multicloud environment, where you may be managing multiple cloud-native deployments across different cloud providers and on-premise solutions, the combination of IBM Z and LinuxOne with OpenShift gives you a great on-premise solution to move forward with your digital transformation.


Built-in Redundancy

IBM Z and LinuxONE have redundancy built in from the ground up. These servers have spare processors that can take over automatically for any of the active processors running your workload should something happen to an active processor. Redundant array of independent memory (RAIM) is standard in LinuxONE and IBM Z servers. This technology protects against memory errors and physical memory failures. The I/O for storage is designed to have multiple paths to the storage devices regardless of which type of I/O you are using, either FICON or FCP attached storage. The communications adapters can be configured to be highly available to prevent communication outages due to hardware failures. These servers are designed to perform most microcode upgrades concurrently, which reduces the amount of downtime required. Processors, memory, and I/O adapters can be added without needing to take downtime and the operating systems can dynamically pick up these new components without having to take an outage.


Performance Advantages

From a performance perspective, IBM Z and IBM LinuxONE can be scaled horizontally and vertically to accommodate a wide range of cloud deployments and traditional workloads, all on the same server at the same time. Almost everything is virtualized on these servers, so from a logical partition or a virtual server standpoint, adding memory and processor capacity can be done dynamically without impacting the running applications. From a physical server perspective, both the IBM Z and LinuxONE have Capacity on Demand, which allows you to add processor capacity for either short-term or permanent use, allowing you to accommodate your changing workloads and helping you manage costs. All this with the signature reliability of IBM.


Colocation Advantages

With the availability of OpenShift you can also take advantage of colocation if you have existing z/OS workloads that support your new cloud-native applications such as a large z/OS database like DB2 or a large transactional workload running under CICS. These colocation benefits also extend to any of your other Linux applications that you have running in lpars on the same physical server. Combining traditional applications with your cloud-native applications running on the Red Hat OpenShift container platform on the same server can reduce communication latency between these applications.


Cost Advantages

The IBM Z and LinuxONE are excellent at driving down the cost of running your applications, especially as the workloads grow and change over time. These servers are designed to run at close to 100% utilization, which means you can fit more work onto a single server and take advantage of lower software costs due to a lower number of licenses and the ability to fit different performing workloads onto a single server and get much higher utilization.


Easy Implementation

Implementing Kubernetes and OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE is simple and straightforward. You can configure a small number of virtual servers and, after they have been started, the automated install process builds the OpenShift cluster automatically and keeps the cluster up and running after it is built. As you move your applications to the cloud, OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE makes a compelling case to deploy your cloud solution on premises enterprise servers and take advantage of the reliability, performance, and cost effectiveness provided by IBM Z and LinuxONE and the ease of operation and management brought by OpenShift.


Get More Information
As an IBM Platinum Business Partner, Mainline has extensive experience with IBM mainframe systems and operating systems, and we can help you with Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Cloud Paks, z/OS, z/VM, Linux on IBM Z, and LinuxONE. To set up an in-depth discussion about how to get started using these technologies, please contact your Mainline Account Executive directly or click here to contact us with any questions.


Related Blogs and Videos:

BLOG: Benefits of IBM Z for Private Cloud

BLOG: Self-Service Application Development Using IBM Cloud Paks on IBM Z

VIDEO: Introduction to Containers & OpenShift

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *