Welcome!

Linux Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Lori MacVittie, Sandi Mappic, Esmeralda Swartz, Trevor Parsons

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
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
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...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash Inc., will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it’s a mix of architectural style...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, 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. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
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 Utimaco 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. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
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...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

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.
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...