Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: PagerDuty Blog, Liz McMillan, XebiaLabs Blog, Klaus Enzenhofer, AppNeta Blog

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Open Source Cloud

Linux Containers: Article

Seven Keys to Success with Linux

A Linux migration and adoption is a journey, not a destination

The Linux operating system materialized through the work of Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student who introduced the first release in 1991 as an open source version of UNIX for x86 PCs. Although it wasn't the first open source version of UNIX, the unique advantages of Linux soon attracted a following, and it quickly emerged as a viable operating system alternative. The combination of x86-based virtualization and the widespread adoption of Linux eventually opened the door to a new era of business computing, fueling major changes to today's business information technology landscape.


Seven keys to success:

  1. Define business level objectives.
  2. Survey the application landscape.
  3. Develop a scalable infrastructure blueprint.
  4. Identify the right project.
  5. Conduct pilot studies.
  6. Start the production rollout.
  7. Transition to continuous process improvement.

Today almost every organization has open source technology somewhere in their IT environment, usually in the form of Linux. For example, Linux provides the underlying plumbing for much of the Internet and World Wide Web. In short, Linux has arrived as a mainstream operating system for organizations everywhere and it now plays an integral role in business computing.

While Linux has become a mainstream business technology, it's not foolproof. Successful Linux migrations should be well planned and deliberately executed. Although there's no real substitute for qualified and experienced Linux professionals - with basic IT competency your organization can follow these steps for a successful Linux migration.

Seven steps for successful Linux and open source adoptions:

1. Define Business-Level Objectives
To begin, you should understand your organization's business strategy. Find a pragmatic balance between the applications that represent parity services for your organization and those that serve your business strategy and provide a competitive advantage. From there, you can define your business-level objective and align your business needs with your IT capabilities and expected workloads. Doing this work at the outset helps you to ensure flexibility, stability, and sufficient performance to meet your business objectives at the lowest cost of ownership while avoiding vendor lock-in.

2. Survey the Application Landscape
Next, survey your application landscape. At one time, not every application could be moved to Linux, so you didn't have the option of skipping this step. However, virtually all applications today run on Linux or have suitable Linux equivalents. Nevertheless, this important step lets you rationalize your application environment: separate the applications that perform useful work from the applications that consume resources but are never or rarely used - also known as "shelfware."

In addition to eliminating shelfware, you want to cull overlapping and redundant applications. Again, they take resources without advancing your business-level objectives. Finally, this gives you an opportunity to identify and document the interrelationships between applications and systems so you understand the various dependencies between them, such as applications that require data processed by other applications.

3. Develop a Scalable Infrastructure Blueprint
If, after you examine your current application environment, you find that you can directly apply Linux and open source to your business and its computing requirements, you should begin developing an appropriate Linux infrastructure blueprint. Because Linux and open source have spawned new approaches and methods for deploying your application infrastructures, you have a surprising number of choices. At this point, you want two things from your infrastructure: a solid, reliable base on which to run your applications and - since every business intends to grow - a scalable, flexible, extensible, and dynamic platform that can grow and change with your business.

4. Identify the Right Project
This step is more complicated than merely choosing one of the applications from the first step. For this, you'll need your financial analysis and management skills. To move forward, secure management commitment and executive-level sponsorship from the outset. You don't want to start this level of infrastructure change without support from top management and a specific, named champion at the top. Generally, it's easiest for you to secure this level of management support through an objective financial analysis that documents proper validation and justification for the business-level objectives you identified in the first step. You'll need to identify the business drivers and assess the return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) considerations and implications, making sure to document both the hard and soft dollars involved.

5. Conduct Pilot Studies
Next you'll begin the technical work. Surprisingly, the success of the migration rollout depends not only on the organization's understanding of the importance of Linux and open source but also on all the ramifications of the technical changes facing the company. To that end, you'll want to conduct pilot studies and build appropriate interoperability labs that will provide the necessary training, usability studies, and technical validation to ensure project success. This is your first chance to discover the technical and operational issues that could delay or derail the project. (If your migration project is destined to be delayed or canceled completely, it's best that you discover it during the pilot study before you commit to the full expenditure.) To reduce the likelihood of problems leading to delay or failure, you'll also want to set up and test ongoing project management and risk management processes. This includes assembling your application testing labs, refining your change management processes, and initiating training and team building efforts.


To move forward, secure management commitment and executive-level sponsorship from the outset. You don't want to start this level of infrastructure change without support from top management and a specific named champion at the top. Linux and open source adoption requires forethought on how to manage logistics such as scheduling servers and data to be migrated, notifying users of planned outages, responding to user inquiries, and having processes to resolve reported software problems and errors.


6. Start the Production Rollout
Once you have the pilots and labs working and generating feedback, it's time to start the production rollout. You have a couple of options. You could try a "Big Bang" rollout, in which your company attempts to do it all at once, but experts don't generally recommend that approach. Instead try a staged, controlled, and well-managed rollout. Linux and open source adoption requires forethought on how to manage logistics, such as scheduling servers and data to be migrated, notifying users of planned outages, responding to user inquiries, and having processes to resolve reported software problems and errors. You may still encounter some problems, although you should already have caught most of them in the previous step. In addition, you'll want to automate as much of the rollout as possible. You can do this by using standard application and system configurations, plus a standard operating environment, which should be your selected Linux distribution. In some cases, you might choose to run the new and old systems in parallel, although this requires more effort and entails some increased risk, particularly the risk of inconsistent data.

7. Transition to Continuous Process Improvement
After you deploy, you'll transition to continuous process improvement and consistent management and operational processes. Both the business and technology groups must take all reasonable steps to use established methods of success, accurate financial analysis, and process improvement and controls. That means identifying process improvements, practicing consistent management, and applying proven best practices.

Finally, don't forget the "Golden Rule of Infrastructure Management" - simple and well-designed infrastructures shouldn't require extensive management tools. Don't try to compensate for a poor design and implementation with extensive management tools, because even the best management tools can't simplify a poorly designed infrastructure.

Linux Offers Choice
In the end, a Linux migration and adoption is a journey, not a destination. And although it may seem that transitioning away from your current computing environment is too daunting, this is truly an opportunity to build a better application infrastructure for your organization's long-term success. However, Linux and open source won't magically create a self-governing computing infrastructure. You should still make every effort to enforce the management controls and processes that allow open source computing to thrive. Adopting industry standards increases your ability to take advantage of future innovations. By using industry standards as a basis for selecting the best solution for your environment, you will find that those solutions will provide the right balance between cutting-edge innovation and proven industry approaches and strategies.

Finally, Linux and open source adoption is not an all-or-nothing proposition. The goal of adopting Linux and open source is to optimize the organization's computing infrastructure in the most economic way possible. This might mean having a mix of Linux and non-Linux solutions. That's part of having choice, and in the end it's what Linux and open source are all about - having choices.

Advantages of Linux
Open source technology licensing is neither new nor radical. It has been part of computer science programs since the 1960s, offering organizations everywhere access to a worldwide software development community - not captive to any one entity - thereby sharing global expertise and continuous innovation and enhancement. As open source technology, Linux is freely accessible - though not necessarily free. Popular versions of Linux typically entail fees of one sort or another.

Even so, its low cost is the primary benefit for many people. Linux radically reduces the cost of computing through its low cost for deployment, better price/performance, and lack of dependence on any single vendor. Companies can rack up substantial savings in terms of hardware costs alone, since organizations can deploy Linux across inexpensive commodity hardware, such as cheap x86 machines. As a result, implementation and maintenance costs can be much less than the total cost of ownership associated with some proprietary technology.

In addition to these inherent savings, Linux also provides:

  • Excellent price/performance
  • Vendor independence (avoiding vendor lock-in)
  • Broad ecosystem of vendors, applications, and support
  • Enterprise-class portability, flexibility, and scalability

More Stories By Mark Teter

Mark Teter is the Chief Technology Officer at Advanced Systems Group. He is an internationally recognized authority on information technology who regularly advises IT organizations, vendors, and government agencies on a broad range of information management issues. Each year, Mark conducts dozens of seminars and training programs for corporate and government institutions. He sits on several financial industry advisory boards and has recently published Paradigm Shift: Seven Keys of Highly Successful Linux and Open Source Adoptions.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, will provide a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services ...
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
Now that the world has connected “things,” we need to build these devices as truly intelligent in order to create instantaneous and precise results. This means you have to do as much of the processing at the point of entry as you can: at the edge. The killer use cases for IoT are becoming manifest through AI engines on edge devices. An autonomous car has this dual edge/cloud analytics model, producing precise, real-time results. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Eng...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
There are 66 million network cameras capturing terabytes of data. How did factories in Japan improve physical security at the facilities and improve employee productivity? Edge Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the public cloud every day. Data is aggregated and analyzed close to sensors so only intelligent results need to be transmitted to the cloud. Non-essential data is recycled to optimize storage.
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, will present an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He will expound on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and...