Operating Systems

With the global economic slowdown and projections for a prolonged recession, funding those “must-have” IT development projects this year will be a challenge. In 2009, IT managers will be lucky to get a fraction of the resources they’ll need to keep up with their organizations’ growing information IT requirements, as many planned projects are likely to be dramatically delayed, severely cut, or eliminated outright. Not surprisingly, IT managers this year will focus on maximizing the performance and functionality of existing computing systems in any and every way possible, while avoiding situations that require additional resources.

One approach many IT managers favor to address this objective is IT virtualization, which enables a computer system to efficiently and transparently share resources so a single physical server can act as many virtual servers. A well-planned and executed virtualization deployment can provide a host of benefits sure to resonate with today’s budget-minded IT managers, including: IT cost reduction, reduced energy consumption, improved flexibility and remote access, and a simplified computing model.

Just about every major IT system and application vendor today is touting some type of virtualization solution. Virtualization is expected to remain an IT bright spot this year despite the bleak IT budget outlook. Mark Bowker and Jon Oltsik, analysts with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), put it this way in a January 2009 report titled “IBM System z: The Enterprise Server Virtualization Platform?”: “As the IT world prepares for cost-cutting in 2009, server virtualization seems like one of the few technologies bound for continued growth and success.”

However, as IT managers pursue virtualization, they must be careful to do so methodically and with adequate advanced planning. This is particularly important when it comes to securing the newly established virtualized environment. Too often, IT security is treated as an afterthought to the deployment of virtualization technology, which can have serious unintended consequences.

Data security should be at the forefront of any new enterprise IT virtualization initiative. IT managers must ensure they’ve explored every avenue and that their current security measures are strong and flexible enough to adjust to the dramatic changes in the way users will be interacting with critical data across their extended computing environments. This includes ensuring they implement a data security solution and associated policies that will protect their corporate assets in a virtualized environment. The ease and speed with which new hosts can be deployed in a virtual environment make it even more critical to apply due diligence and security measures comparable to those in the physical environment.

Linux on System z Advantages

As IT managers map out IT virtualization plans, they must determine which systems and platforms will best meet their needs, as well as the best way to ensure adequate levels of data security before, during, and after the transition.

Several industry experts believe combining the Linux operating system with the IBM System z makes an ideal virtualization platform. According to Bowker and Oltsik: “… the IBM System z may be the best enterprise-class virtualization platform available today. Organizations with mainframe investments, UNIX/Linux consolidation projects, or Web application development initiatives may find mainframe virtualization TCO [Total Cost of Ownership] especially attractive.”

Some key advantages to the Linux on System z combination include:

• Scalability: Linux on System z can run natively on the IBM System z hardware—or up to hundreds of virtual Linux servers can simultaneously run under z/VM (Virtual Machine)— providing massive scalability with a single server.

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