|By Maria Winslow||
|August 31, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
When Rackspace Managed Hosting started in 1998 to lease Internet colocated servers to customers, they went with Linux almost everywhere in an effort to keep costs down. In fact, heavy use of Linux was standard in the low-margin managed hosting sector. According to IT manager Eric Evans, "people would be surprised by how much they would save if they went with Linux."
Linux Servers and a Mix of DesktopsEvans supports a little under 200 servers for internal company use. Evans put all of the internal services that he could on Linux servers, including e-mail, file servers, print servers, DNS, and network monitoring. Only the financial application server and the sales force automation server remain on Windows, because the vendors don't have Linux versions yet. Linux comprises about 80% of internal servers.
Of the approximately 9,000 customer servers, Evans estimates that 60% are Linux, reflecting demand for cheaper Web solutions. Some customer services that Rackspace provides, such as domain registration and a customer portal, are also on Linux servers. The mandate to use open source whenever possible extends to the service provider role as well. Rackspace only uses Windows servers for applications that don't have an open source substitute.
According to Evans, more attention is paid to IT expenditures now that Linux has shown its value to the organization. "Anytime we need to deploy Windows, we choke on the price, and have to work harder to get the approval. Open source deployments are typically time, hardware, and that's about it."
Rackspace employs a large support department, so a sizable percentage of desktop users are technology-savvy. Although the officially supported desktop is Windows XP, employees are permitted to install whatever they want on their desktops as long as they give up support from the IT department. As a result of the loose rules, many technical employees have installed Linux. The IT department ensures that basic services will work for both operating systems, resulting in a hybrid desktop environment.
Everyone in engineering runs Microsoft Office on Crossover Office, an emulator for a subset of Windows applications. According to Evans, "Crossover Office is nearly flawless, and it's about as close as you can get to natively running Microsoft Office on a Linux workstation. I bought the plug-in first to play Quicktime videos, although I was skeptical. But it worked great, so I spent $60 on it for the full version." Evans likes it better than OpenOffice.org because he has absolute compatibility with Windows users now and in the future. And he was surprised that Microsoft Office is faster on Crossover running on Linux than it is on Windows.
Most nontechnical employees run Windows XP. Evans doesn't run Microsoft Active Directory though. Instead, he uses a Samba primary domain controller, backed by openLDAP as a Windows domain controller. A Linux server is used for all authentication. Evans concedes that he probably sacrificed some functionality with this choice, but found that it didn't actually matter for Rackspace. The bells and whistles that were sacrificed were not really needed. Evans and his staff also know that they can authenticate anything against LDAP, since it's an open standard. Whenever possible, open standards have always been preferred at Rackspace, to keep options open in the long term.
OpenNMS Saves BigRackspace doesn't have exact figures on how much a Linux migration saved, because they didn't migrate. But they are very aware of how much can be saved with specialized tools that run on Linux. OpenNMS, an open source network monitoring tool, is used internally for the approximately 200 company servers.
The cost savings are huge. Evans looked at OpenView, a proprietary competitor to openNMS from HP. But OpenView can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the installation. For Rackspace's needs, this product would cost about $200,000-$250,000 just for internal network monitoring and reporting, with $10,000 per year in maintenance costs. To use OpenView for their customers' servers was simply out of the question because the costs were too high. OpenNMS is a comparable open source free network monitoring tool. Rackspace purchases support from Blast Internet Services, the maintainers of OpenNMS, for just a few thousand dollars per year. Overall, the savings are quite dramatic.
There is a tradeoff for the savings, however. The HP product requires less ongoing administrative effort. Evans expects automation to improve as more administration tools are added to openNMS. The positive side is that Rackspace has some influence over what goes into the product. His staff is working now to expand openNMS so they can use it for network monitoring of their customers' servers. Their efforts will be incorporated into future versions of openNMS. Their code will help other users of the product, but the incorporation also benefits Rackspace by removing the burden of supporting the enhanced code.
Supporting Open Source DeploymentsEvans finds that they have far lower administrative overhead with Linux than with Windows. "It's part of the Unix paradigm. We've seen as high as a 50-1 effective server-to-system-administrator ratio with Linux, but only 20-1 for Windows. Our average has probably been 35-1 or 40-1 on Linux."
Evans hasn't had much of a problem finding Linux expertise. "When I received applications, they came from monster.com and our Web site job postings. Rackspace is known as a desirable place to work because it is a startup, and employees have some freedom to run Linux on the desktop. Linux enthusiasts are happy to be here."
When asked what advice he has for IT managers thinking about a move to Linux, his basic message is that it's not as hard as you may think. "People overestimate the complexity of migrating to Linux. FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) would have it that Linux is extremely complicated to set up and use, but that's just not the case. Even good Windows or network administrators pick it up. Linux is becoming more mainstream and mature, and is a perfectly capable platform for infrastructure, databases, etc. Don't fear it."
(This article is excerpted from the author's upcoming book, The Manager's Guide to Open Source, Manning Publications, September 2004.)
Rackspace Managed Hosting saved over $200,000 by using OpenNMS for network monitoring rather than a proprietary product. They continue to save several thousand dollars per year in support.
Open Source Products Used
- Red Hat Linux
- OpenNMS for network monitoring
- BIND 9 for DNS
- Sendmail and Postfix e-mail servers
- Samba primary domain controller
- OpenLDAP for Windows domain controller
- Crossover Office (proprietary product) to run Microsoft Office on Linux
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 ...
Nov. 22, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 877
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...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 980
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...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,337
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.
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,219
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...
Nov. 22, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,319
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...
Nov. 21, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,234
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,314
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,247
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,192
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
Nov. 20, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,305
"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.
Nov. 20, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,482
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Nov. 20, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,259
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.
Nov. 20, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,029
The 3rd International @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 it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Nov. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,492
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...
Nov. 20, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 1,738
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.
Nov. 18, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,977
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.
Nov. 18, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,546
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Nov. 18, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,484
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Nov. 18, 2014 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,976
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. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.
Nov. 13, 2014 05:00 AM EST Reads: 3,518