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This new tool makes IBM mainframe computers more Big Data friendly

3/09/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


A new open source tool lets IBM mainframe customers access data from those systems using Apache Spark, a popular Big Data technology.

Mainframes. They’ve been the butt of IT jokes since at least the 1990s, but they’re still a remarkably solid business for their biggest manufacturer, IBM. While Big Blue’s hardware business continues to lose money overall, mainframe revenue keeps growing—including by a whopping 118% in the second quarter (third quarter growth was a more earthly 9%).

And on Tuesday, a company called Syncsort, which specializes in helping businesses integrate their mainframes with more-modern data-management technologies, released a new open source tool that connects IBM Series z mainframes with Apache Spark. It’s an attempt to bring often-conservative mainframe users into the world of 21st-century analytics where they desperately want to be.

Spark is an open-source data-processing platform that has dominated the Big Data world over the past couple years. Spark is faster, more flexible and easier to use than Hadoop MapReduce, the open source technology that helped spur interest in Big Data over the past decade, and even has well-funded Hadoop vendors like Cloudera and Hortonworks HDP rebuilding parts of their strategies around it. In June, IBM itself announced a $300 million investment toward Spark’s development, calling it “a foundational technology platform for accelerating innovation and driving analytics across every business in a fundamental way.”

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