Although many in the industry (perhaps our younger colleagues) look at mainframes like remnants of a bygone era of computing, it is interesting to note that mainframes are still powering key applications and processes that make businesses run. There is no doubt that sometimes “big iron” is needed to provide efficient compute power delivery and consolidation of resources.
In the late 1990s, IBM made Linux available on IBM System z to provide the flexibility of running Linux while taking advantage of the benefits of mainframe hardware and base OS – things like redundant processing, virtualization, hot swappable hardware components, efficient transaction processing or large database management that require high performance for input/output.
Now, I am not a mainframe expert, but I do know that Linux running on a mainframe has the same identity consolidation and privilege management challenges as Linux running on any other platform. A silo of identity or access policy is a problem whether it exists on an x86 machine or on an IBM mainframe. But mainframes running Linux provide a great example of the type of heterogeneity that we see within datacenters all the time. As can be said in just about any situation, you need to use the right tool for the job, and sometimes that means you need to use “big iron.” But now, you can also leverage the flexibility and integration that you can get with Linux. The only thing (well, one important thing) stopping you is the ability to manage identities, privileges, and auditing in that mainframe environment.
We designed the Centrify Server Suite to provide a logically centralized way to manage identity policies for authentication, privilege, and monitoring across datacenters that may include a multitude of different types of hardware, running different operating systems. While this sounds like a daunting task, we’ve been doing this for many years now, and we have customers using our software to manage security for deployments that number in the tens of thousands of servers! One of the deployment models that we support is running Linux on IBM System z. So, with the Centrify Server Suite, you can integrate identities on your mainframe with Active Directory in the same way you might do this for a standalone RHEL or Solaris system. You can use the same RBAC model for defining privileges for users across Linux, UNIX, Windows, and yes zLinux systems. Additionally, you have the option to capture all session information and prove that users are performing only those tasks for which they have appropriate privileges. So how cool is that, that you can set policies and prove compliance across all the systems in your datacenter? If you are using or looking to use zLinux, then check out what Centrify has to offer for identity consolidation, privilege management and auditing. You’ll find a solution that integrates your mainframe zLinux identity management with the other systems in your environment. That sounds like a winner to me.