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Linux on Power > Tips and Techniques > Systems Management

The Hows and Whys of Migrating Linux to Power


Increasingly, clients are looking at Linux* to gain more flexibility and reduce cost. Compelling arguments have been made for choosing Linux as well as choosing to run it on IBM Power Systems* architecture. With the introduction of its eighth generation of the POWER* processor, Power Systems servers now seamlessly integrate into any infrastructure running Linux. The combo also offers productivity gains and reduced operating cost.

Moving to Linux on IBM servers resulted in a 14% increase in user productivity and a 60% decrease in infrastructure cost, according to an IDC study

Migrating from Linux on x86 to Power Systems architecture may leave some feeling apprehensive, but Peter Dens, owner of Kangaroot Linux Solutions in Belgium, says there’s nothing to fear if you follow some simple best practices.

Facts and Fiction

Before deciding if and how to switch to Power Systems technology, it’s important to clear up some common misconceptions—first, that the platform is too expensive, and second, that it requires highly specialized hardware or training.

“The Linux on Power* servers have a price point that can be compared to an Intel* box, and anyone who’s used to working on Linux can run this machine as well,” Dens says. “Once it’s up and running, it’s Linux. Period.”

With the recent release of POWER8* microprocessors, PowerKVM and PowerVM* server virtualization technology, Power Systems servers require even fewer physical boxes than before, while enabling clients to scale up in an efficient way. Dens says this capacity-on-demand model provides yet another benefit—namely, more bang for the buck with less complexity.

Moreover, IBM used to require a rewrite or recompilation of the software code customers wanted to run on top of Power technology. “But in POWER8, IBM introduced support for little endian modes, which brings the environment really close to Intel,” he explains. As a result, according to IBM, 95 percent of Linux on x86 application written in C/C++ port to Linux on Power with no source code changes and just a simple recomplie and test. Additionally, IBM reports that 100 percent of hardware-agnostic Linux on x86 applications written in scripting (e.g., Java*) or interpretive languages (e.g., PHP, Phyton, Perl, Ruby, etc.) will run as is with no changes.

Along with all of these benefits, the innovation happening within IBM Power Systems technology is what compels many businesses to finally make the switch. Because so much of the information is open and available, Dens says it’s easy for clients to experiment without the usual legal and IP-related issues.

Eve Daniels is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.



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