Monday, March 30, 2009

In Search of Perfect Datacenter Operating System

Actually There's no such thing as a perfect OS
Not too long ago, an online technology columnist wrote an incredible song about the drawbacks of every single OS available on the market today. The practical upshot is that there's no perfect OS, either for day-to-day operations or DR purposes. Let's take a look at the primary OSs in modern data centers, with a focus on the pros and cons that relate to the DR process.

UNIX (excluding Solaris and Linux)

UNIX is the original data center OS. In fact, this tried and true standby has been in use since large-scale operations were first conceived. The various types, or flavors, of UNIX offer exceptional reliability and scalability. They allow for higher-capacity server systems and tend to remain operational without crashing for longer periods of time.
The drawback, from a DR perspective, is that there are fewer DR software tools designed specifically for the UNIX environment. This is due to the reliability of these systems and the wide variety of available UNIX flavors, which makes standardization difficult at best.
Many hardware systems can easily protect UNIX systems across multiple sites, and numerous systems exist for clustering UNIX machines. They provide both High Availability (HA) and DR when necessary, but flexibility is limited.

Technically, a flavor of UNIX, Solaris is manufactured and maintained by Sun Microsystems. It offers the same type of robustness as other versions, with the standardization you can typically only find in products that are controlled by a single entity, such as Sun. As such, there are many hardware and software solutions available with HA and DR protection for Solaris-based data systems.
The major drawback is the large price tag that's associated with a Solaris installation. Since this OS runs only on Sun Microsystems hardware, the costs incurred in a properly configured DR plan can be astronomical. This is cost-justified in some situations, but many companies are now finding less expensive alternatives.

Debate rages as to whether or not Linux is a variant of UNIX, but we'll let you draw your own conclusions on that issue. This OS is a relative newcomer to the data center and is quickly becoming a major player. Its low cost and high reliability make it very attractive for all levels of data operations.
The main drawback is the lack of software solutions that are designed to offer DR for Linux-based data systems. It's currently limited to mostly hardware-based DR solutions, but as the field continues to mature, more solutions will become available.

With the advent of Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition and Windows Powered NAS appliances, this formerly small system OS is becoming more prevalent in the data center. The relatively low cost of Windows, coupled with the large number of hardware vendors who support it, makes it a very flexible and cost-effective choice for many systems.
There's a large number of vendors that create both hardware and software DR systems for the Windows platform. This data center OS can be protected both in the same site and at multiple physical locations.
Windows has its share of drawbacks, as well. It's plagued with security holes and has an uncanny ability to crash with little or no warning. However, new innovations by Microsoft are making this OS a data center contender.

Whichever OS--or combination of OS platforms--you run on your systems, there are DR pros and cons that you need to consider. Only careful DR planning and implementation can ensure that the right systems, at the right price, and on the right platforms, will be present for your organization.

1 comment:

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