Replacing high-end Unix with enterprise Linux? Not so fast.

Some customers are finding that they have a place for both and that Linux isn't necessarily an economic no-brainer

Blanchard agrees that Linux doesn't work for every application. He's seen cases where Marriott's IT team has looked at a Linux migration and decided not to proceed. But overall, most of the platforms moving to Linux at Marriott today are high-end Unix systems. He thinks the technology and the tools are sufficient for Marriott's needs. "We started talking about enterprise-class Linux systems ten years ago. It took a while to get that up and running," he says. The strategy now is to continue to redeploy on Linux.

It also helps that Marriott's system vendors are supporting the initiative. Rather than trying to convince the hospitality company to stay on Unix systems and high-end server hardware, both IBM and HP have been helping to make those migrations go smoothly. "Our vendors are very comfortable with this transition," Blanchard says.

For now, however, Unix systems are still very much in the mix as Marriott plans migrations on a case-by-case basis. "We do not have a strategy to just close our eyes and go with one particular platform to the exclusion of all others," he says. Qualcomm is also getting more bang from the buck from its Solaris 10 systems by taking advantage of the operating system's virtualization technology, Solaris Containers. That feature was also responsible for stopping the Linux transition plans at Bank of New York Mellon in its tracks.

Dennis Smith, first vice president in the bank's advanced engineering group, says that when he started planning last January, he anticipated a wholesale "replatforming" of all of the Solaris systems at the bank onto Linux servers. That hasn't happened. After transitioning a few systems, Smith decided to bring Sun back in to talk about leveraging its virtualization technology and began to experiment with Solaris Containers. "We're in the middle of that now," he says.

Sun's Containers technology, which creates virtual machine instances that share a single copy of the operating system, can make for a compelling economy of scale argument, Iams says. It can scale much better than VMware, it is more mature than Parallels' Virtuozzo and it's supported by Sun as part of the core operating system. With Containers, he says, "You have a much smaller footprint per instance so you get a much higher level of consolidation. While you might a few dozen [virtual machines per physical server] with VMware, with Containers it's hundreds -- or even thousands -- per server." Smith saw enough of a benefit from Containers to change his plans -- but he's still keeping Linux in the picture. "We won't be as aggressive in replatforming to Linux as we initially thought," he says. But, he adds, "We feel that both platforms will have a place in our infrastructure."

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