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Which apps love Linux more than Windows?

Which applications run better on Linux than on Windows? Get the scoop from Tivoli's CTO, Bob Yellin. He also offers advice on managing mixed Windows and Linux environments.

Windows may be the dominant desktop platform, but Linux is actually better at running certain applications, according to Bob Yellin, CTO and vice president, technology at Tivoli Systems, Inc., Austin, Tex. E-mail systems and Web servers are where Linux has got it right, he said.

What applications are best suited for Linux? Which run better on Windows? Yellin offered some insights on these questions, as well as virtualization and heterogeneous system management tactics in this interview with SearchWindowsManageability. He provided practical mixed platform management tips in Part two of this interview.

sWM: Are there any little known facts about managing a heterogeneous environment?

There's nothing in managing a mixed Windows and Linux environment that does not also exhibit itself in any mixed environment.

There are, of course, peculiarities associated with each discipline that make management challenging in a heterogeneous environment. The issues of security and software distribution versus the issues in performance monitoring could be very different. Obviously, doing things with universal, industry-adopted interfaces, like post office protocol, poses no problem. Once you get into using a proprietary interface, like the Windows management interface, you're going to find a weak level of Linux support. So, if you try to manage only to the common features across all OSes, quite often you end up playing to the lowest common denominator. You could, of course, be dealing with a vendor who is going to enhance the capabilities and the functionalities.

sWM: What are the "peculiarities" in managing the performance of a Windows and Linux network?

If Linux is not supplying something which is a Windows-only interface, it's difficult for IT shops that expect to buy Linux, or get it off the shelf, to set it up and automatically plug it in. There's work that has to be done to get it to communicate on proprietary protocol. Interoperability using Web-based interfaces is usually very safe because it tends to be self-defining. It will go over HTTP or use Web services as a model for invoking or communicating with heterogeneous platforms. Using an industry-standard method for interoperability will offer a lot flexibility and will neutralize a lot of these concerns.

sWM: What applications are best when run on Linux, and which are best when run on Windows?

I don't see Linux as a predominant desktop platform or replacing Windows 2000 Office applications. I do, however, see Linux as a viable server platform for running file systems, e-mail systems, and Web servers. I don't think you'll ever find the body of support and applications that exist for the Windows desktop on the Linux environment. There's no real compelling reason to go to Linux in the desktop environment.

In the server environment, on the other hand, there are substantial economic advantages to running Linux. For one, it's primarily Intel-based. Linux is also an ideal platform for server consolidation. So, running WebSphere on Linux, application servers, or HTTP servers within a Linux environment are some things it's really ideal for. Then, you don't have to deal with compatibility of the desktop paradigm. I imagine it's only some of the real Linux extremists who would propose using Linux as a consumer desktop in lieu of Windows. You have to have another agenda to be jumping up and down about that one.

sWM: Are they any advantages to running Windows and Linux on the same server?

I have not seen a lot of customers who are partitioning out, running Linux and NT alongside of each other. Logically, partitioning is two separate machines anyway. It's just a matter of cosmetics as to whether both images on running on box.

sWM: Can organizations run Windows desktops and Linux for backend servers?

I am sure there are issues around the way Microsoft put together the Active Directory. They have coupled and bundled some management functions that run between the Microsoft server and the Microsoft desktop that you don't get in a mixed environment. You also don't get the benefits of capabilities in Microsoft SMS, IntelliMirror, certain backup and recovery capabilities, and integration of the Active Directory when you're running in the mixed mode Linux to desktop. I don't think people pick Linux to be their primary server. I think Linux is gaining wider acceptance as an application server, as opposed to an office system server. So, it wouldn't be the owner of an organization's local area network. If you're running Linux to run an application, it's nothing that is living behind the firewall or an unauthorized zone.

sWM: Could you explain virtualization in partitioning?

Well, it's always better to have fewer physical boxes. An example is of partitioning a large IBM zSeries computer into thousands of virtual Linux boxes. For large Web server applications, for large networks, I can see virtualization being very widely used because it gets the company out of the difficult problem of cabling. Also, the company does have the logistical management associated with managing thousands of separate boxes. It's fairly easy to instantiate a new image in response to demands, for example.


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