‘You are not Alone’ – When it comes to moving from RISC

Change is hard, but it can be done and the benefits of change usually outweigh the concerns which were on our minds before we made the change.

When making the change from running your solution on a RISC architecture to running that solution on a Xeon architecture, the biggest concern usually relates to whether that solution will run at the same level as on the previous architecture. I'm not talking about performance specifically, but usually the question is around whether operating systems like Linux, Windows, and Solaris on Xeon will meet your business needs for yourmission critical solutions.

Like the underlying improvements in the microprocessor, I believe that there have also been major fundamental improvements in the operating systems that run on both today's and the soon to come next generation microprocessors (sorry, my obligatory Nehalem-EX advertisement... coming soon in 2010). A decision made many years ago to run your solution on Unix/RISC was made based on comparing all the different variables at that time to pick what was right for your business. At that time you likely decided that your solution would not run on these operating systems, these operating systems were not suitable for your mission critical workloads etc. Probably right decision at that point, but like everything else decisions get revisited based upon the here and now and what may have been the right solution in the past (and right decision) may not be the right solution for your needs now.

I wanted to share some thoughts specifically on Redhat Linux today. Lets take a little look at Redhat Enterprise Linux. Current versions of Redhat can deliver what is required for your critical solutions. RHEL is ready and here are some of the reasons cited by Redhat in recent webinars on this topic and my interpretation of their comments

  • Hosts real-time global mission-critical infrastructures and operations 24 X 7 - its tried and tested by other Enterprises
  • Enables 5x9s availability in highly secure environments - pretty important to most critical solutions
  • Contributes measurable reductions to TCO and enables, agile, standardized, and virtualized infrastructures - TCO benefits through standardization
  • Has major ISVs on-board with the majority of 3rd party Unix applications have Linux and/or Windows versions available - the ISVs that traditionally delivered applications to you based on Unix, also have versions supported on Linux/Windows
  • Many customer unique applications are developed with programming languages such as C, C++, JAVA, or J2EE and can be migrated to Linux and / or Windows - your applications can be moved
  • Hosts most major database systems standard for your infrastructure - all the major databases run and run well on Linux

One of the other things we encounter a lot is around whether the technical considerations to move from one operating system environment are too high to overcome and outweigh the benefits of moving. There are always technical considerations and things that you need to know to move from one environment to another. However you are not alone in trying to understand these technical considerations. Redhat have done a phenomenal job of documenting the challenges of moving from say Solaris to Linux and have developed a great Strategic Migration Planning Guide. This is available on request. In recent webinars Redhat outline some of the things that you need to consider for the following technical categories

  • Development Environment
  • Kernel tuning
  • Security
  • Filesystems
  • Debugging
  • tracing, Profiling;
  • Command Differences
  • Deployment methods
  • Software Management
  • Virtualization
  • Application considerations

In addition to the current versions of Redhat running on Intel architecture, we are also working very closely on future versions that will take advantage of the 20+ new RAS features that are planned for Nehalem-EX - more on that in a future blog

You are not alone, resources, tools and expertize exist to help you make that move and reap the business benefits while still delivering to the requirements of your business. Check out Redhat online tools for more information that dives deeper into all the areas for consideration http://www.redhat.com/migrate/solaris_to_linux/

We think Redhat Linux and Xeon are ready to run your mission critical workloads and solutions...What do you think?