Today, at the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Red Hat Inc. announced a partnership to bundle Linux on blade servers, but migrating from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows remains a headache for IT managers (see Red Hat, HP Offer Blade Bundle).
Linux, long touted as a cost-effective and secure alternative to proprietary software, is a logical fit for high-density, low-footprint blade servers. Indeed, HP and Red Hat are part of a trend to combine Linux and blades, as more and more enterprises look for cost savings in their data centers (see Red Hat, HP Offer Blade Bundle). Last year, for instance, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
launched a Linux/blade server combo specifically aimed at small-to-medium-sized businesses (see IBM Intros SMB BladeCenter).
But there's a downside, one that HP and Red Hat don't address specifically in their bundles, namely, the hassle of converting applications from existing platforms to Linux. Its not simple to migrate your applications across from Windows, warns Daniel Fleischer, senior research analyst at IDC. He says Unix, which uses a kernel similar to Linux, is much easier to shift.
The migration challenge looms large in the minds of IT directors. The vice president for technology and operations at online gaming company Turbine Inc., which is planning to deploy 1,000 blades over the coming months, recently voiced his concerns about Linux (see Turbine's a Fan of Blades).
Nonetheless, HP's deal with Red Hat reflects the growing momentum behind enterprise blade deployments. It has only penetrated the enterprise now, says Fleischer. Most of the deployments have been in technical computing or education.