DCN November 2016 - Page 34

Linux ALIVE AND THRIVING Martin Percival of Red Hat looks back at 25 years of Linux in the data centre. W hen Linus Torvalds introduced Linux to the world on 25th August 1991, he received a mixed response. In fact, a majority were sceptical as to his operating system’s chances of survival. Twenty-five years later, Linux is alive and thriving, embedded in our daily lives in ways we could hardly imagine in 1991 – powering smartphones, TVs, video consoles, network routers, on-demand services, social media, VoIP and more. Over the years Linux has upturned traditional processes, norms and technologies, creating previously unimagined opportunities to transform entire industries. Arguably one of its greatest legacies is the rise of professional open source, thanks to the acceptance and uptake of Linux in the enterprise. This effort has been spearheaded by organisations that work in communities to adapt Linux to make it smoother, more secure and fit for business needs. Linux and the data centre Today Linux can be considered the ‘bedrock’ of enterprise computing and is at the core of most data centre innovations. Before the creation of Linux, enterprises had to rely on specialised hardware, unique to specific flavours of UNIX, for the foundation of their data centre’s infrastructure, but this was an expensive solution. In contrast, Linux grew in tandem with the rise of commodity x86 hardware, bringing processing power to the user without the drawback of a locked-in proprietary model. This has enabled enterprises to install greater numbers of machines at lower cost, and facilitate cloud computing, where a multitude of servers, rather than a single dedicated host, provide services to end users on-demand. To truly see the impact of Linux on enterprise computing, one need look no further than Amazon and Google, two common names in the data centre today, but two companies that would look completely different without Linux. Amazon Web Services, now nearly synonymous with public cloud computing, has more than one million customers using its vast arsenal of on-demand services, with Linux providing the flexible, scalable base of its service mix. While an AWS-like