Welcome!

Linux Authors: Ignacio M. Llorente, Trevor Parsons, Tad Anderson, Andrew Phillips, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux

Linux: Article

Linuxcare's Levanta

The next best thing to cloning a system administrator

Linuxcare recently announced the release of their Levanta 2.0 software, which configures and updates virtual Linux servers on the IBM eServer zSeries mainframe. I had the opportunity to speak with Linuxcare's president and CEO, Avery Lyford, about how they are moving forward with their systems management software and their goals as they establish themselves as a leader in the Linux on mainframe systems management.

Linuxcare prides itself on the ability to solve the toughest problems and provide value to the most demanding customers. Therefore their strategy has been to pilot their products in the financial and telecommunications sectors. After successful installations in customer sites in the industries with the highest demands, they expanded their target market to anyone running virtual Linux servers on the mainframe (IBM zSeries).

Levanta Value Proposition
Linuxcare is a software product company focused on reducing the time spent on repetitive tasks associated with change management on Linux servers, specifically those servers running on IBM's zSeries mainframe. In layman's terms, Linuxcare endeavors to accomplish three things:

  1. Make system administrators more productive by crystallizing the knowledge needed for repetitive tasks and automating these tasks through software.
  2. Reduce knowledge required for menial tasks and maximize skills reuse, allowing enterprise collaboration vertically but still maintaining overall control of Linux systems. Levanta enables the managed self-service virtual server environment because it can offer roles and permissions for server functions and it tracks changes for auditing purposes.
  3. Reduce planned maintenance windows, decreasing the number of unplanned outages through change management and rollback features. These features can make it possible to rebuild a server in minutes rather than hours or days.
Linuxcare has always been a high-value, rather than a low-cost, company tackling big problems and aiming to yield big savings. They have listened to what their customers expressed as their biggest pain points. Then they took that feedback and developed products that eased these annoyances and leveraged their staff to make them many times more productive.

Allowing System Administrators to Innovate
Systems administrators, a very highly skilled class of IT worker, have the ability to do a great number of things. Unfortunately, they often spend their time working on menial tasks like applying software patches, ensuring recoverability in the case of outages, and rebuilding servers after an unsuccessful upgrade. All of these functions are of critical importance but are seldom the best use of a system administrator's time. If system administrators could focus on enhancing IT infrastructure rather than maintaining it they would add to the company's overall bottom line. Levanta provides them with more time to improve and best utilize their skills rather than work on projects that least utilize their skills.

In a large enterprise it's often hard to complete projects due to centralized IT staff's ownership of the infrastructure needed by department or branch-level IT employees. IT staff often spend their time doing tasks on behalf of other departments, tasks that these departments would probably rather do themselves given the ability to enact their own changes. The Levanta framework allows delegation of individual systems based on permissions and roles. This allows smaller IT units to complete necessary tasks without being subjected to a central IT structure. It also allows the IT authority to have confidence that they have served their internal customer without shirking their ultimate responsibility for the systems they manage. Avery ultimately compares this to taking a cab ride in New York, in the sense that sometimes it's more difficult being a passenger than being the one driving the cab. Levanta allows the passenger (department-level IT personnel) to take action and "drive the cab" without the central IT authority worrying about the repercussions.

Rollbacks and Audit Trails
Levanta has the ability to provide rollback on servers. In an age when it has become necessary to constantly patch software and operating systems, the ability to roll back to the last working server version is important. By being able to restore a server to its last stable state quickly, administrators can reduce the length of unplanned outages. Levanta is a "safety net" in the sense that it can provide an emergency fix to servers and give administrators the confidence to make updates without grave repercussions. Not only is the ability to restore available, but also the speed to resolution is much greater due to the automation of data and state restoration.

The capacity to track historical changes is important for a number of reasons. With the passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, largely a financial act, auditing of the systems that provide financial data has even greater importance. CIOs could be held liable if they aren't able to provide proof that they have taken due care to maintain these systems. Historical records on updates, patches, and integrity of systems are available through Levanta, which would be important to those IT executives concerned about accountability for their Linux systems. This data can also be handed off to an enterprise management console like Tivoli.

Summary
Levanta does more than just manage the OS; it manages the whole application stack, which means that it handles change management in not only the server OS but also in the services provided on the server.

Levanta isn't a tool that any IT department would deploy, but if you're running multiple Linux servers on IBM's zOS virtual server environment then it's definitely worth a look.

The Linuxcare team is led by a number of industry veterans with varied mainframe and virtualization experience. They have also forged partnerships with IBM, the vendor of their OS, which their software complements. Linuxcare has done a good job identifying a problem in many corporate data centers and developing tools to enhance the productivity of the system administrator.

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
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
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 @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed 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!
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...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
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 @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
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...
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...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"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 major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
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...

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...