Down on the server farm
The server farm is the place in the infrastructure where Linux is most prevalent. So
it is not surprising that VA Linux focused its latest remote monitoring and management
software release at server cluster management requirements. VACM 2.0 collects data on
systems status (process list and user list), resource status (memory usage and CPU
load), and hardware status (temperature, power levels, fans, chassis), and displays the
information on an administrator's desktop.
The software also permits managers to reset individual servers remotely and lets
administrators control individual nodes via serial console redirects, which is said to
allow reconfiguration of a system's BIOS over the network.
According to Jay McKinsey, a VA Linux software product manager, VACM 2.0 represents
a full redesign. "The redesign was aimed at making it modular," he said.
Using Perl, the Open Source community can adapt the product as needed, he added.
"User-friendly Linux distribution-independent cluster management tools such as VACM
will play a critical role in solving 'deployment issues', Aberdeen's Claybrook said.
It was not that long ago that Unix was playing catch-up in systems management versus
its mainframe predecessors. Some Unix and Linux server farms may move to the mainframe
in years to come, asserts Greg Bryant, director of core technology product strategy at
TivoliSystems Inc. He points to IBM's support of Linux on S/390 computers as a prime
For some, "Linux on 'the mainframe' will not just be something to manage, it will be
what to manage from," said Bryant.
Meanwhile, as attention focuses on Linux-only houses, traditional systems management
vendors such as Tivoli, Computer Associates and Hewlett-Packard have made strides in
Linux support, said Gartner's Govekar. The need for such tools may become more acute as
service-level agreements come into play for Web hosting and services delivery, and as
more shops are required to measure Linux performance, he said.