The siren call of Linux® is hard to ignore. Low cost, the ability to fine-tune to optimize performance, broad ISV support and an abundance of system administrators make the free, open-source operating system a no-brainer for many IT organizations. But others need an experienced partner to help them decide whether Linux is right for them, and to guide their first steps.
HP can be that partner. The company has relationships with major Linux providers Red Hat and Novell, and with emerging players like Oracle® and Canonical. Its experience, trained engineers and support and service personnel enable it to deal with Linux issues.
Mark Semadeni is HP’s ProLiant Linux/UNIX Product Marketing Manager. “What we’re all about is to enable ProLiant servers to run as best they can on Linux,” he says. “We provide a broad choice of form factors—rack, blade and tower, Intel® and AMD® —and we support Red Hat and [Novell] SuSE 100 percent across our hardware portfolio.”
HP’s approach to Linux—run it on anything with an x86 processor—means that it can support a broad range of needs. Its management tools give administrators greater control and visibility over their servers, no matter what their Linux experience is.
“For the advanced Linux user, comfortable with the command line, we provide them with complete power to blaze their own trail,” Semadeni says. “The SmartStart Scripting Toolkit for Linux is a collection of command line utilities to automate configuration of ProLiant hardware. The recently released Advanced [Enhanced] Scripting Package provides a set of scripts that automates taking a system from bare iron to fully configured and provisioned with an operating system.” The tools are free, and customers can customize them. “This is for people who want to control their own destiny,” Semadeni says.
Making the switch
Many Linux administrators are new, with Windows experience. They’re often more comfortable with a graphical interface, which HP provides in Insight Control Environment (ICE) for Linux. ICE for Linux plugs into the Systems Insight Manager (SIM) server monitoring solution, allowing administrators to manage Windows, Solaris and Linux in one place. It also connects to the open-source monitoring tool Nagios.
Solutions are also available for customers who are already using other management tools. “We’ve aggregated our package of system drivers and agents, and we can graft them onto other management tools,” Semadeni says. “So if a customer says ‘those tools are great, but I want to use Tivoli, or OpenView,’ then we can allow them to manage the entire system with one tool, even if it’s not an HP tool.”
Customers running business-critical applications like OLTP or ERP on Linux demand high availability. “The high-availability tools that come with most operating systems are a good start,” Semadeni says, “but they’re lightweight.” HP’s Serviceguard technology for Linux protects applications from software and hardware failures by monitoring the health of each server, quickly responding to failures of system processes, system memory, LAN media and adapters, or applications. Customers can minimize downtime, whether caused by a hardware, software, virtual machine or network failure, or by regular upgrades and maintenance. Those already using Serviceguard on HP-UX can use it to cluster Linux with zero ramp-up time.
Papierfabrik Albert Friedrich KG (fripa) is a paper manufacturing and processing company based in Miltenberg, Germany. The need to have a high-availability platform, together with a realization that maintenance costs were growing rapidly, led fripa to replace its Sun server architecture.
“As a company looking to run SSA Baan in a high-availability Linux environment, we found that the HP ProLiant cluster met our needs perfectly,” says Michael Wasserer, IT Manager, Papierfabrik Albert Friedrich (fripa).
HP also provides a complete gamut of Linux services and support. “We provide service from basic to critical,” Semadeni says. “We resolve 99 percent of calls to level one and level two support. So when a Linux customer calls in, HP has enough expertise to deal with it ourselves.” In the rare circumstance where HP can’t handle a customer issue, it is forwarded to the Linux vendors for resolution.
All these tools help make ProLiant a compelling choice as a Linux server platform. So next time your organization hears the siren call of Linux, you can be confident enough to answer it.