This blog post was written by Pam Derringer, news writer for SearchEnterpriseLinux.com.
Last week, lots of IT guys from New York’s biggest banks and stock brokerages took a day off to attend the sixth annual Linux/Open Source on Wall Street conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in the heart of Manhattan.
All ears they were, but suddenly attendees turned shy when the lectures ended and they were asked to share their own views on Linux. Surely, the firms’ PR police or legal watchdogs would find them out and ruin their prospects for career advancement. Promised a mask of anonymity, however, a few attendees opined on the show, and here are their thoughts.
Lack of management tools cited. “I’m a strong Linux advocate,” said one enthusiastic IT manager. “It’s free, open and secure. And if we find issues, we’re able to fix them.”
Five or six years ago, his firm was one of the first in financial services to introduce Linux servers to data centers. Now about 30% or 40% of its machines run on Linux, with most of the remainder running Windows. The firm’s direction, he said, is definitely off Unix and Solaris and onto Linux.
And he couldn’t be more pleased that Red Hat Inc., in turn, incorporated his team’s enhancements, such as changing storage allocations without a reboot into future versions of the operating system. This way, all Red Hat customers benefit and his staff doesn’t have to maintain the improvement separately with every future fix or upgrade.
He is also concerned about improving data center energy efficiency and has explored various options, to reduce energy consumption, including CPUs, memory and lower wattage.
He has also researched the stateless, single-image data center that can be booted up all at once. “Management would be much better,” he said. “We’d only have one operating system image to manage.”
What is Linux’ most telling shortcoming? “Enterprise-class management tools,” he answered, not unpredictably. “But the good news is: Linux is getting there.”
Rising support costs lamented. Another anonymous big-gun attendee said that for about six years his firm has used Linux — mainly Red Hat — on everything from mainframes to blades and servers.
“Linux is getting a faster, better infrastructure,” he said. “But if these vendors want to remain a viable solution, they need to remain competitive with other data center providers. They’re getting like everyone else, adding more middleware and getting more expensive. It’s getting so that the support and maintenance are costing more than the servers themselves. We need to drive competitiveness back.”
More third-party software urged. A third attendee said the main problem with Linux is the lack of third-party software and inadequate vendor support. For five or six years, he has used Linux to run Web applications and noted that the third-party software shortage is less severe for Web apps than for migrations off AIX or Solaris, for example, simply because of higher volume.
The good news is, he said, that vendor support is on the upswing, citing the presence of Oracle and IBM at the trade show.
“The demand for Linux is there but the growth of third-party software products is slower,” he said. “But we will start to see this [third-party software] materialize more and more.”