Salt River Project, one of Arizona’s largest utilities providers that delivers power and water to more than 935,000 customers in the Phoenix metropolitan area, has migrated to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM System z mainframe servers.

In 2006, SRP began to accelerate its investigation of Linux solutions after upgrading its System z mainframe. Though SRP’s Power division had been testing Linux in-house for approximately three years and had a desire to move to a Linux-based environment in the future, it didn’t have any Linux solutions in production at the time.

“We had a long-standing desire to look for solutions outside of our previous environment,” said Kevin Masaryk, senior Linux/Unix administrator at SRP. “We were very interested in Linux on the mainframe for the enhanced utilization, flexibility, workload consolidation and management capabilities offered there. Above all, it could help us mitigate the risk of server sprawl that was plaguing our traditional environment. In fact, whether on the mainframe or a distributed architecture, Linux would allow us to run more workloads per server than our previous environment.”

After deciding to evaluate various Linux solutions for the mainframe, SRP selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which the SRP IT team had been evaluating during its in-house Linux testing. SRP decided it would prefer to use one reliable Linux distribution in both its mainframe and distributed environments.

“When evaluating Linux mainframe solutions, we experimented with SUSE because it had an early relationship with IBM for that architecture, but Red Hat had become very mature in the mainframe environment, too. Since we were already leaning toward Red Hat in our distributed environment, choosing Red Hat on the mainframe coincided with our desire to have one corporate standard for Linux,” said Masaryk. “The implementation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on our IBM System z mainframe was straightforward and didn’t take long at all.”

Today, SRP has nearly 50 Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based servers and the implementation is ongoing. The SRP team leveraged Red Hat Training offerings to expand internal knowledge of Red Hat’s products and services in production environments, and uses Red Hat Network Satellite to manage its Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems.

“We use RHN Satellite, which is a key component to the management of all of our Red Hat servers, whether on the mainframe or in our distributed environments. Our use of Satellite has grown with us and we're pleased with how much time it has saved us and how efficient it has made our administrators. I’d recommend setting up RHN Satellite as soon as possible for others who want to go down that road; it pays off very quickly,” said Masaryk.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM System z mainframe servers has provided SRP with a very stable and predictable solution that can be easily managed via Red Hat Network Satellite. It has enabled cost savings through the elimination of licensing costs, and has also provided boosted performance for its servers. “The ability to consolidate multiple workloads into one instance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux as opposed to running in our environment, where each workload would have to run on a separate server; That’s a huge benefit for us,” said Masaryk.

For the future, SRP has plans to continue to expand its use of Red Hat solutions. “We’re planning to move forward with implementing additional Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based machines as fast as we can. We’re also investigating the use of JBoss solutions,” said Masaryk.