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Linux – Enterprise Ready?

Cover for Linux – Enterprise Ready?

By: Joe Clabby
Classification: Research Report

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You may remember that just three years ago, Bloor Research published a report concluding that Linux was not yet ready to support large enterprise applications. Bloor Research North America recently completed a follow-up study looking at the Linux of today and its enterprise-readiness. After examining Linux scalability, availability, reliability, security, manageability, flexibility, as well as server consolidation characteristics, Bloor Research believes that Linux is now enterprise ready. Here are the findings that led to this conclusion:

Bloor Research Linux Scalability Findings

  1. At present, Linux scales well vertically to 6-way SMP on Intel hardware. But, over the next three months, expect to find Linux 2.5 scaling to be backported into Linux 2.4 kernel distributions (allowing for 8-way scaling). The next major revision (Linux 2.6) will provide up to 16-way scaling in about a year.
  2. IBM can scale Linux on its zSeries mainframe using virtual machine technology – ideal for server consolidation purposes.
  3. Linux scales extremely well horizontally in distributed “grid” computing configurations.

Bloor Research Linux Availability Findings

Failover extensions can be found in the base Linux kernel (downloadable for free), from Linux suppliers such as Red Hat, SuSE, or other United Linux suppliers, from traditional hardware/software vendors such as Sun and IBM, and from Grid suppliers.

Bloor Research Linux Reliability Findings

From experience as well as user feedback, Bloor Research knows that reliability is dictated by systems hardware as well the operating environment and related applications that run on that hardware:

  1. Bloor Research’s research indicates that almost 90% of Linux is installed on Intel platforms, generally known to be reliable. The Linux operating environment has also been proven to be reliable – especially when used to run dedicated applications.
  2. When Linux systems have failed, the failures have largely been caused by incompatible applications contending for the same system resources; poorly written device drivers; or limitations in the operating environment (for instance, early revisions of Linux were not written to exploit multi-processor environments). One way to avoid this dilemma is to buy “advanced server” or “enterprise server” pre-tested environments from reputable Linux suppliers.

Bloor Research Linux Security Findings

  1. When you think “Linux security”, think “Unix security”. But, Bloor Research did find that Linux security and Unix security are hugely different in one respect: openness. Because Linux is based on open source code, a huge community of developers closely scrutinizes Linux code, thus revealing any code-related security issues.
  2. Linux developers can build their own layers of security directly on the Linux kernel. This is beneficial for enterprises and governments who want to invest in specialized security development. However, most business CIO’s will want to avoid making source code modifications that would limit their support options.

Bloor Research Linux Manageability Findings

Although many Unix-based manageability tools, utilities, and applications can be used to manage Linux environments :-

  1. Very sophisticated Linux management tools (including workload balancing, performance/tuning, and other Linux management products) are available from Grid vendors in the form of distributed resource management tools, utilities, and applications.
  2. Some vendors with major commitments to systems management (such as CA, IBM, and Sun) have done Unix to Linux systems management ports – and currently offer rich suites of Linux management tools, utilities, and applications.

Bloor Research Linux Flexibility Findings

  1. To date, Linux has been highly successful in achieving its flexibility goals – running on small, mobile hardware chipsets such as ARM; various embedded chipsets; popular but somewhat obscure chipsets such as Saturn, Hitachi’s H8, Amtel AVR, the Motorola 68K family; all the way through powerful, enterprise server chips such as HP’s Alpha, Sun’s UltraSparc, Intel’s Pentium, and Itanium series, and IBM’s PowerPC series.
  2. Linux offers ISVs the opportunity to write code once – and run that code on many different platforms.

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