Linuxcare eyes server consolidation

Trying to ease the pain associated with consolidating servers on mainframes, Linuxcare Inc. on Thursday rolled out new software that helps larger shops configure and update large-scale Linux deployments.

The company's Levanta package is designed to allow administrators to reduce the time it takes to deploy Linux on host systems, as well as allowing them to double the number of Linux servers from a single console that they can configure and update.

"Today you don't really have change-management capabilities on Linux, and that is not acceptable in a data center. Multiple people have access to and can touch a system, and it is unacceptable to have a situation where you can't roll back to a stable environment," said Avery Lyford, Linixcare's CEO.

Besides being able to institute change management, the new software also is designed to grant administrators the ability to deploy Linux using their best practices in a relatively non-intrusive way, officials said. And because the product contains a number of different interfaces, it allows various programmers with expertise in mainframe, Linux, and networking environments to work more efficiently together across an enterprise on a number of different projects.

Linuxcare officials contend that server consolidation is becoming an increasingly important consideration in trying to lower their shop's total cost of ownership as well as lowering their error rates and improving scalability and performance.

"The world was once centralized, then decentralized, and now people are looking to consolidate," Lyford said. "CIOs are saying all these distributed infrastructure server systems are like rabbits. They let in four and all of a sudden they have a hundred. I let four in and all of a sudden I have a hundred with about four different architectures with many serving different purposes."

According to a recent report by Gartner, there has been a substantial increase in the number of IT shops trying to accomplish these objectives by consolidating server-based applications onto multiple Linux instances on a single mainframe. But exploiting the value of these virtual Linux instances is not an easy thing to carry out from an administrative standpoint.

"We do see an increasing number of large enterprises looking at Linux on the S/390 and zSeries mainframe systems to lower their overall expenditures on staffing and hardware, and improve the reliability of their hardware platform," said John Phelps, vice president and research director at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner.

"As administrative tasks shift from distributed to mainframe IT staff, centralized software tools could help to further reduce management complexity and increase TCO savings," he said.

Linuxcare said that currently several large financial services companies along with Verizon are testing and evaluating Levanta as part of their respective Linux-led server-consolidation initiatives.

Levanta is available in limited quantities and will be more broadly available in October, according to company officials. It currently supports z/VM Version 4, releases 2 and 3, as well as Linux distributions including SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 7 with Kernel Version 2.4, and Red Hat 7.2.

The product's pricing starts at US$150,000 with technical support and training available from Linuxcare.

Also on Thursday Linuxcare announced it has deepened its relationship with IBM. Linuxcare expanded its relationship with IBM through by joining IBM's PartnerWorld for Developers, IBM's worldwide program to support software developers.

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