Welcome!

Linux Authors: Sematext Blog, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

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
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
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, examined 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 is e...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
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 Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.