Comparing Linux and Microsoft Windows for Enterprise Usage

Selling Linux in the Enterprise often is a tough job, but with the right information, you can start making the case for Linux.
Cloud Computing—Microsoft Azure/Cloud Computing Initiative

Cloud computing is almost as buzzworthy as virtualization, which is funny considering that it is an offshoot of the virtualization movement. Cloud computing refers to a strategy of using a pool of resources (such as servers, storage, bandwidth) or a “cloud” to offer individualized servers or services to customers. Cloud services usually pertain to Web-based application services, but more and more apps are appearing “in the cloud”. These newer apps include corporate e-mail hosting, file storage, user collaboration and mobile apps. Clouds are a cost-beneficial proposition for smaller customers that want the advantages of a data center (clustering, high availability/disaster recovery) without the cost of maintaining one. Amazon has been a pioneer in this area with its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service where you can purchase your own cloud servers or applications that run within the Amazon cloud. Microsoft has jumped into the market and poured considerable resources and energy into the emerging technology. It has been live with its public cloud, Azure, since 2009. Microsoft's private cloud, which will be managed through System Center, is scheduled for release in the first half of 2010.

If you want to deploy a private Linux-based cloud now, you can do so with Ubuntu. The process is remarkably simple. Download Ubuntu server and launch the server install process. Upon boot, you will see an option from the main install screen to install the server as a Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) server either as a cluster controller or as a node. You will need one of each to get started. Once up and running, you can download images from the management site (Figure 12) or begin creating your own images that match your cloud needs. The cloud you are deploying actually is a re-branded version of the open-source cloud software Eucalyptus. Management is accomplished via command-line or GUI-based tools like hybridfox (Figure 13), a Firefox add-in that runs like a modified version of Amazon's Elasticfox management utility.

Figure 12. Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud Web Interface

Figure 13. Managing Cloud Instances with Hybridfox

Many other areas of the enterprise are ripe for Linux penetration. The ones presented here represent some of the best chances for Linux adoption in the vast majority of enterprises. I encourage you to download and test these options to see how beneficial they can be to your business. Linux's future development, its very survival, rests in its ability to stake a claim in the business computing market, and the only way to do that is by constantly challenging the status quo with viable, cost-saving alternatives. Hopefully, I've given you some of those alternatives here.

Jeramiah Bowling has been a systems administrator and network engineer for more than ten years. He works for a regional accounting and auditing firm in Hunt Valley, Maryland, and holds numerous industry certifications, including the CISSP. Your comments are welcome at jb50c@yahoo.com.

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