Later this month at LinuxWorld Expo in New York, Caldera and the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) will launch their new company, a melding of Caldera and SCO's server software and professional services division, and lay out the new entity's product plans and strategies. Much of those plans will revolve around clustering technologies and cluster management, centered around Caldera's Volution systems management software, which weaves together existing Unix and Linux systems.
Some pro-mainframe Linux researchers and consultants believe many IT executives overlook or do not accurately assess all the factors involved in running environments with hundreds or even thousands of Unix-and Windows-based servers and often put too much emphasis on the up-front costs of existing vs. new hardware and software.
"In our research, we find that most companies make decisions based on something as simple as what is the lowest-cost hardware platform they can get. But as their businesses evolve into these more complex electronic environments, they discover that sort of thinking is shortsighted," says David Boyes, chief strategist at Ashburn, Va.-based Sine Nomini consultancy and research firm.
For example, Boyes oversaw a TCO (total cost of ownership) comparison study on behalf of a large corporate client, using two very different infrastructures. The first solution involved 750 Sun servers; the second was anchored by a single IBM S/390 mainframe with the company's venerable VM OS governing Linux, which was set up in a partition.
Taking into consideration the cost of hardware, software, middleware, 750 LAN ports to connect the servers, consulting time to set it all up, and the necessary floor space needed to accommodate the servers, the Sun solution was priced at $55 million. The equivalent IBM-Linux solution cost $7 million.
The client also dramatically reduced the time it took to bring new servers up, primarily on the strength of VM's capability to partition Linux, which can then operate thousands of far-flung departmental servers. According to Boyes, it took an average of 1.5 days to set up a Sun server, as opposed to 90 seconds for the mainframe to bring one online.
One factor overlooked by many TCO studies favoring Linux mainframes is the expense of moving various versions of even the same application from one architecture to another. One high-level IT executive at a Fortune 10 company, who requested anonymity, assigned a small team to investigate what sort of technical and financial effort it would take to put Linux on company mainframes. But he will not write off on the project until the applications he is using now are ported over.