Distributed Linux in a Virtual World

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Corporate IT is growing its deployments of Linux and actively seeking out areas to virtualize it, but distributed Linux systems still have their place in enterprise architectures.

In some cases, systems and architectures are firmly entrenched and a distributed deployment of Linux seems to be the best option. In other cases, there are application- driven arguments for a true, distributed solution. For the majority of IT shops—and for vendors—enterprise IT architecture is sufficiently varied that everyone understands all these   platforms must work well together—and there’s no single solution that addresses everyone’s needs.

“There has been a substantial workload transfer to Linux over the past few years,” says Carlos Montero Lucque, vice president of Product Management for Novell. “Just a few years ago, Linux was largely concentrated in areas of network management and edge computing. It’s now being used with mission-critical applications such as ErP [Enterprise resource Planning], CrM [Customer relationship Management] from companies such as SAP, and on platforms such as WebSphere and Oracle.”

Montero Lucque says that a growing number of sites are deploying distributed Linux using IBM xSeries and pSeries servers. Sites are taking these servers and migrating Unix applications to Linux. The selling points are lower costs and the robustness and stability of Linux. There also are abundant Linux technical skills available in the marketplace— and the Linux operating system can be tailored to a specific IT environment.

Why Distributed Linux?

While sites are taking a serious look at Linux virtualization on platforms such as the System z, there are still industry and application niches where a distributed Linux approach excels.

Retail

One example of significant distributed Linux deployment is in-store retail transactions.

“Retail is a big example where enterprises like the feeling of having servers close to the actual operations,” says Vince re, senior vice president and chief software architect for CA. “Most of them have a server in every store for in-store transactions.”

Several factors favor distributed Linux systems in retail. First, retail business managers have historically felt they had better response time for in-store transactions from a local server than from a geographically distant central server. With bandwidth improvements, that argument has gone away—but store managers still like the comfort of having local failover capability for in-store transactions.

4 Pages