Security and storage also are difficult to manage. For example, how does IT really know what’s going on with remotely situated servers? And if storage is distributed on servers throughout the enterprise, how do you balance capacities? “It’s the physical realities of distributed servers that complicate the overall service picture for IT,” says re. “When you have tens of thousands of servers to cover, and some of these service calls must be onsite, the task is daunting. In such an environment, the asset management piece alone is major.”
IBM and System z Positioning
It’s no secret that IBM has been advocating the adoption of Linux system virtualization on the System z. Few System z shops believe there’s a better platform for virtualization, given the z’s high reliability and excellence in resource management. System z also provides excellent I/O performance and can quickly scale large numbers of virtual Linux servers. Because of this and other factors, there are now historically non-z shops that are seriously contemplating System z acquisitions for their virtualization initiatives.
IBM also recognizes the heterogeneous nature of IT, and knows that virtualization can’t address every issue and application. Customers may choose to virtualize certain Linux servers and applications on the System z, while using the System z as a centralized management resource to oversee other physical Linux servers on the network. For this purpose, IBM, TIBCO and other vendors have strong middleware for distributed Linux servers that support open source solutions and position distributed Linux for Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).
“Diversity is a good thing in our view, and so we have a variety of ways to get there,” says Jim Stallings, IBM general manager of Linux. “We don't say, ‘here’s our architecture, take it or leave it.’ We take the time to understand our customer's needs, their business problems, and then we work with them to choose a solution accordingly.”
Understanding the Benefits
There are industry niches and applications that are likely to always make a strong case for distributed Linux, despite the impetus in most organizations today to flock to virtualization. IT shops with a System z in their “mix” enjoy an inherent advantage with the z’s already proven capabilities and assets, whether their Linux scenarios are virtualization, distributed servers, or both.
“There will be greater understanding of a virtualization strategy once upper management sees and understands the cost savings,” says CA’s re, “But there also can be a strong end-user reaction when there’s a threat to take a physical server away. In one Wall Street firm, an executive said: ‘That server runs my business operation. It’s really important to me and I don’t want it commingled with anyone else’s computers. What if VMware has a bug, and it affects me? Can you guarantee me that it won’t?’ ”
This is why working with upper business management to understand the benefits of virtualization is one of the top items on CIOs’ lists these days. At the same time, the message needs to be tempered for those “niche” areas that really do run better with a distributed Linux deployment. Z