Building an Open IT Infrastructure Together
Linux leads the way for enterprise-ready open-source solutions.
By Yan Fisher04/01/2018
The IT industry is undergoing a major overhaul. Increased demand for big data analytics and machine learning, cloud and edge computing, Internet of Things and high-performance computing solutions often requires clients to look beyond traditional architectures such as x86.
Despite all the talk about application migration to the cloud and promises of infrastructure-free computing, physical hardware still maintains a prominent role in enterprise IT. Selecting the right hardware for a given function remains an important decision, with choice playing a large part in how new technology implementations come together. Open IT infrastructure provides an answer to this requirement with a broad selection of available hardware options, backed by industry-accepted open standards and leaders with experience in bridging community innovation with enterprise stability.
The Advantages of Open Infrastructure
By definition, an open IT infrastructure is built on open technologies. The most obvious example of this is the Linux* open-source OS. From a purely software perspective, open source is almost a “default” choice in today’s data center, with open software driving a significant portion of modern enterprise computing. We’re now seeing a similar drive on the hardware side for open systems and component designs, like those embraced by the Open Compute Project (opencompute.org) and OpenPOWER Foundation (openpowerfoundation.org). These allow vendors and users to participate in a more open and collaborative dialogue, emphasizing a focus on identifying relevant designs and making them “real” in a shorter time frame.
We’ve believed in a fully open IT infrastructure stack for years (i.e., one that stretches from the bare-metal foundation all the way to the applications running on top of the stack). Now, we increasingly hear from clients that they want to minimize the impact of architectural choices in hardware on their software development and IT operations. In short, they want their IT operations to be hardware independent while reaping the benefits of specific hardware configurations. There’s no better time to embrace the concept of fully open IT infrastructure.
Linux as the Leader
Opening up infrastructure starts with the OS by offering a layer of abstraction between the underlying hardware and surface software. This layer softens the blow of architectural changes and allows easier migrations from one architecture to another. Linux has served as a major enabler for open-source technologies in the data center for x86. Today, this trend continues with Linux helping to pave the way for alternative architectures.
As open source officially turns 20 this year, it marks more than two decades of enterprises and individual developers collaborating “upstream” to better address broader access to the latest technology. This collaboration has ultimately led the business world to enterprise-grade Linux platforms, which provide more secure and trusted OS choices for a variety of specialized software stacks and frameworks.
They also provide a springboard for additional open-source innovation, including virtualization, containerization and cloud computing, all based on community-derived and enterprise-accepted standards. This helps the enterprise world expand open IT infrastructure in their environments without sacrificing the stability or reliability that they’ve come to expect in their data centers.
The Future of Open Source
So what’s next for the enablement of alternative computing architectures, like IBM Power Systems*, in open source? As enterprises look to IT to solve a broader array of business challenges and transform their core operations with digital technologies, computational demands simultaneously grow in scale and variety.
A common answer is to expand the open infrastructure footprint of a data center with the right mix of technologies that best suit an enterprise’s unique requirements. Open source shouldn’t be tied to one single architecture, and we are seeking to make this a functional reality.
Open Compute Project: opencompute.org
OpenPOWER Foundation: openpowerfoundation.org
Yan Fisher is the manager of Multi-architecture Product Marketing for Red Hat.