OSDL Previews Data Center Linux Spec

Group focuses on reliability and scalability.

While Linux has long been a credible Web-serving, and, later, embedded platform, most technologists believe Linux lacks the scalability and reliability to meet the needs of back-end datacenter applications. The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) previewed its work to that end this week at LinuxWorld Expo.

OSDL is a non-profit organization that supplies server hardware for testing Linux in new configurations. Its corporate sponsors include hardware companies providing test platforms, software companies, and member companies interested in taking Linux in new directions.

Tuesday, the OSDL announced the completion of its Carrier Grade Linux specification that describes how to properly configure a Linux installation to meet the technical needs of carrier and datacenter applications.

The organization also announced the formation of the Data Center Linux working group, which aims to create a specification that will enable Linux to meet the needs of datacenters, particularly in financial services organizations. It particularly focuses on two types of applications, OLTP and Decision Support, most needed in financial services. OSDL expects to release a 1.0 requirements specification by the end of this year.

The Carrier Grade requirements specification version was released this week as well. Announced at January’s LinuxWorld Expo in New York City, it describes how to configure Linux to replace dedicated equipment used by telecommunications carriers for traffic management, switching and other tasks.

OSDL director Tim Witham says most of the equipment used for these tasks today is designed in-house by the various carriers, at a significant cost. The carriers and their suppliers, he notes, were drawn to Linux because its open-source nature allows them complete control over the environment, and Linux and open hardware presents an opportunity to lower costs.

Carrier applications also offer OSDL a good proof of concept for their goal of moving Linux into environments that need a high degree of availability. "They actually deal in six nines," Witham says. If Linux is good enough for carrier applications, it can gain credibility in other environments.

Witham adds that although the data management applications used by the financial services sector are far different in purpose than the carrier applications, much of the work OSDL has done for the carrier specification can be used for the datacenter specification. "There’s a lot of overlap." he says. "It’s at least 90 percent overlap."

Datacenter administrators in other industries may also take note of the Data Center Linux specification. Witham says the kinds of applications used in the manufacturing and transportation industries have similar requirements as OLTP and Decision Support applications.

About the Author

Chris McConnell is Product and Technology Editor for Enterprise Systems.