Welcome!

Linux Authors: Liz McMillan, Mike Kavis, Anne Buff, Andrew Phillips, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Linux, Open Source

Linux: 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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Harbinger Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Harbinger Systems is a global company providing software technology services. Since 1990, Harbinger has developed a strong customer base worldwide. Its customers include software product companies ranging from hi-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley to leading product companies in the US and large in-house IT organizations.
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
As a disruptive technology, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), which is an emerging standard of web communications, is redefining how brands and consumers communicate in real time. The on-going narrative around WebRTC has largely been around incorporating video, audio and chat functions to apps. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Alex Gouaillard, Founder and CTO of Temasys Communications, will look at a fourth element – data channels – and talk about its potential to move WebRTC beyond browsers and into the Internet of Things.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research's network of 200+ independent analysts provides new content daily that bridges the gap between break...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.