|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
SYS-CON Events announced today that AgilePoint, the leading provider of Microsoft-centric Business Process Management software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 2nd International @ThingsExpo which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. AgilePoint is the leading provider of Microsoft-based Business Process Management (BPM) software products, has 1,300+ on-premise and cloud deployments in 25+ countries and provides the same advanced BPM feature set as J2EE vendors like IBM and Appian for the Microsoft .NET native environment. AgilePoint customer...
Oct. 31, 2014 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 990
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
Oct. 31, 2014 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,566
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Oct. 31, 2014 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,914
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, will describe 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.
Oct. 31, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,789
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,672
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,367
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 Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss 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! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Oct. 31, 2014 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,317
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, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
Oct. 31, 2014 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,977
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...
Oct. 31, 2014 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,651
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. 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.
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,207
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Oct. 30, 2014 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,392
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
Oct. 30, 2014 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,587
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,079
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
Oct. 30, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,743
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Oct. 30, 2014 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,187
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, will examine 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...
Oct. 30, 2014 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,606
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Oct. 30, 2014 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,294
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
Oct. 29, 2014 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,079
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
Oct. 29, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,635
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Oct. 29, 2014 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,062