Linux Containers Authors: Jim Kaskade, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: 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.

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
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessi...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer 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. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.