Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Eric Robertson, Liz McMillan, AppNeta Blog

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Making Sure Migration Is an Option

What pitfalls await your open source move

As time passes, the base of Linux users is growing in the data center, desktop, and even embedded electronic devices. Numbers from industry analysts point out that Linux server shipments have shown double-digit growth every quarter for over two years. In many cases these servers are being used for expansion or new projects. Inevitably they will be put into service to replace systems that once ran Unix or Windows.

In these cases there is usually an event like a hardware upgrade due to obsolescence or capacity concerns, software maintenance renewal, or other occasion that drives the migration. Rarely do we see a complete replacement of all legacy systems; it's commonly done piecemeal where one part of the infrastructure has been migrated in lieu of renewing an investment in other systems. This means migration to Linux. It also often means adoption of open standards that for the most part is a prime consideration for the open source community. Open source without open standards bears less advantage than a fully open system.

Linux migration is usually a matter of expansion, adding Linux into an increasingly diverse environment. Desktop PCs may be predominantly Windows, while file servers and application servers once hosted on Windows or even Novell NetWare might soon be hosted on Linux. In this case there are two hurdles that you need to overcome, especially if there is a need for communication between systems. The first is the obvious hurdle of moving from one system to another. This is a short-term problem. It's usually very disruptive and requires a considerable amount of planning and staging, though it's not especially unique as you face many of the same problems moving from one version of Windows to another or from one brand of Unix to another. The second problem is longer term and involves interoperability with existing systems. To lessen the burden in this area you should be planning well before a migration. The consideration I believe is most important is whether your systems lock you in and make it unlikely you can easily change vendors should you become unhappy with and want to investigate others. This applies to your data and network services. For example, could data stored in DB/2, Sybase, or Oracle be stored in MySQL or vice versa? Does one system have features you can't live without? Could documents originally authored in Microsoft Office be read in OpenOffice.org? If a new version of Windows becomes available, does it still allow you to access your Samba file system hosted on Linux? These are all questions you should be asking regardless of platform. For example, using Apache on a FreeBSD server is a fine choice, but if you decide that Red Hat offers a good value, can you move from one platform to another? The answer is likely yes. Does the same hold true for Web applications developed on Microsoft's Internet Information Server?

My advice is to adhere to open standards and portable file formats that are more easily migrated later on. Even if you decide to stay with one vendor, it's much better for you to select which solutions to use rather than your vendor making that choice for you. I suggest looking at things that are going on today in your enterprise. On the desktop you are likely using Microsoft Office. Their next-generation file formats are XML and intuitively should allow for easier collaboration between Microsoft and OpenOffice.org users. However, watch closely to make sure that they really do facilitate the sharing of files and that the hype is not the result of a clever PR campaign. Another thing to be wary of is the potential of a new feature in Microsoft's yet-to-be-released Vista operating system: encrypted file systems. Since the product has not gone live, it's hard to understand how this will affect cross-platform enterprises. My understanding is that this feature would likely include a level of encryption that protects the data on the hard drive (for example, the one on your Linux laptop). The idea being that if your laptop were stolen, it could not be booted under another operating system and the data would not be accessible. At first glance this sounds like a valuable feature. However, the question is: Would this prevent you from legitimately accessing that data from another operating system (like I do on my dual boot Windows/Linux laptop). In fact I often help Microsoft users migrate their data from an out-of-service Windows PC using a bootable Linux CD and a network. Will I still have this option with future products? Since this new technology prevents the bad guys from getting my data, I wonder if it also prevents me from accessing my data in a way that I choose? Is the encryption technology open source and does it allows me to authenticate my data from systems other than Windows? Does that make it possible for me to share files between systems that aren't licensed to use this new cryptology technology? I'm unsure of the answer.

I also worry about the inclusion of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology in hardware. For example, DVI connections that are present on many modern graphics cards are very similar to the HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cables that are being used to combine audio and video into one cable for home entertainment equipment. Eventually, computers will use this same interface. Now here's a bit of trivia: the HDMI standard includes an element called HDCP (High Definition Copy Protection, developed by Intel) that does little to add value to my personal experience (I'm sure the recording and movie industries will offer some statistic about how reduced piracy keeps prices lower for me). However, it could mean that if I choose to use a "standard" graphics card with a standard PCI-E interface, I also must make sure that they adhere to less obvious standards buried within my hardware should I want to watch a DVD or HDTV broadcast. Does HDCP add value to me personally? Does it help me get more enjoyment out of my system? Should I be concerned about what's going on within the widgetry of my system? I would think so.

My point in mentioning these things is not to cause you any undue worry or to preach doom and gloom. My hope is to make you aware that while you continue to adopt mainstream technologies, you may also unknowingly be adopting features that lock you into a product's technology. Some of these features will have benefits that will be useful to you; just make sure you are getting what you bargained for. Also, what happens if these technologies add an additional point of failure? For example, the reason I know so much about HDMI is because I recently bought a plasma TV and while running cables from my HD receiver to my A/V receiver to my new TV, I found out that the receiver or the set top box didn't properly implement the standard. The result was that the copy protection software inhibited my ability to legally use my equipment. HDCP never came up in the sales process nor were the installers of my system aware of the potential problem. Take the same situation in a different content: What happens if data stored on your Windows server becomes unavailable to your Linux servers because of some obscure DRM scheme? Does it shut down your operation? Does it add unnecessary complexity and inconvenience? These are the questions I would be asking before I made my next investment in new technologies. The freedom to migrate is one that I believe to be more important than the actual act of migrating. You see, I have made my decisions and continue to make them but do so on my terms, not that of vendors that are conspiring to lock me in. In the future I don't know which conventions might be widely adopted that would prevent me from using legally purchase products in a reasonable way (of course, the consumer's version of reasonable way and the vendor's are bound to be different). What I do know is that I need to be vigilant and watch for these gotchas, and take steps to avoid them. I would advise you to do the same.

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

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 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 ...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase 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. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, 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. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place 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. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, will discuss some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and relate how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material will be delivered i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitrons Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Hitrons Solutions Inc. is distributor in the North American market for unique products and services of small and medium-size businesses, including cloud services and solutions, SEO marketing platforms, and mobile applications.
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
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 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 CrowdReviews.com 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. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
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...
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...