Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Utility Computing Still A Work In Progress On Linux

Data centers will continue to evolve toward a utility model, where the importance of the services delivered by an IT infrastructure surpasses the importance of underlying software and hardware itself. But as Linux running on x86 servers continues to grow in corporate data centers, questions remain as to whether the open-source operating system introduces a higher level of management complexity than the proprietary Unix systems it replaces.

"A fundamental difference is, in the Unix world, we were used to a model of scaling up," said Akmal Khan, president and chief operating officer of Linux-management-software provider Levanta Inc., during Wednesday's keynote at the Open Source Development Lab's Enterprise Linux summit. As such, all software was run on a handful of large multiprocessor servers.

"With Linux, there's this whole notion of commodity computing," Khan said. "The single, all-purpose machine has given way to a proliferation of industry-standard machines. But by going to this proliferated model, we now have this huge ocean of technology."

Linux's growth is undeniable, which means tomorrow's utility-computing environments must take x86-based servers into consideration. Sales of new desktops and servers running Linux, combined with the value of hardware devices repurposed to run Linux, exceeded $14 billion in 2003 and are expected to reach as high as $38 billion by 2008, according to a study conducted late last year by market researcher IDC.

Technology management issues aside, data centers are facing the physical limitations, too, Khan said. One of Levanta's customers had to move to a larger data center simply to cope with the heat generated by the thousands of Intel-based servers running in its data center, he said during Wednesday's keynote.

  • 1