TCO


Watts Water Technologies needed to replace 1000 old shop-floor terminals with more flexible desktops. They ended up choosing SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on Neoware thin client hardwares along with ZENworks to help manage the environment. You can also check out the Open PR blog entry for some info.  From the customer success story…

After evaluating several desktop and thin-client solutions, Watts Water Technologies selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop for use in a thin-client deployment, as well as Novell ZENworks to manage more than 1,000 desktops.

“Linux really shines and Novell has a great Linux strategy,” said Ty Muscat, Data Center Manager for Watts Water Technologies. “We have almost every platform imaginable and are moving more and more to SUSE Linux Enterprise desktops and servers. We like having an open platform with a lot of flexibility.”

The results:

“Without Novell, we would have had to invest far more to get anything similar to what we have with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop,” said Muscat. “The ongoing management and maintenance costs of other options would have been overwhelming for us.”

From the article:

Return on Investment… the holy grail of IT.

Simply put, ROI is defined as the “ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the amount of money invested”. One formula used to determine ROI is “net income plus interest divided by the book value of assets equals Return On Investment.“

In real terms, when you invest in a technology for your business, it’s about more than that. IT-related ROI often needs to provide cost savings, rather than generate revenue. In the case of virtualization for consolidation, this is often a simple calculation made difficult by many variables.

More here.

MacGyver knew his stuff when it came to building a flame thrower out of popsicle sticks, chewing gum, dental floss and a styrofoam cup — plus he always had that cool Swiss Army knife. But I bet even he wouldn’t have been able to use eight PlayStation 3’s, Linux and some technical hacker-know-how to do some scientific supercomputing. But someone’s done it!

This interesting blog article from ZDnet talks about how a researcher from University of Massachusetts built a very low cost “supercomputer” capable of about 200 GFlops all running on PS3’s. While the Linux distro used wasn’t SUSE Linux Enterprise (it was Yellow Dog Linux)… and while there are several other considerations which keep the PS3 from being the scientific computing platform of choice, it’s definitely another fine example of how flexible Linux can be compared to other OS’s.

So, if you’re looking for an excuse to get approval for a purchase order of equipment for your gaming– er, “supercomputing lab”… look no further.

Ok, so my title is a little misleading, there’s not any rivalry between the different areas of Novell and SUSE, other than the usual desire to see your business unit succeed just a little more “betterly” than the other units do. It’s all about friendly competition.

What’s Red vs. Green?

What I’m referring to (with Red vs. Green) is the necessary dividing line between the traditional Novell business units like Workgroup (Netware, Open Enterprise Server, Groupwise etc.) which I think of as “Red”, and the newer and Open Source-centric business unit called Open Platform Solutions (SLES, SLED, SLERT, SLEPOS etc.), which I think of as “Green”. (Get it? SUSE Green, like the Gecko?)

I have come up with the analogy and strategy of Red vs. Green as a way of helping partners, customers and the casual passerby understand that depending on which Novell/SUSE products they have, they will likely benefit most from a particular set of products and growth options.

“I See Red”

My experience has been that if a customer is “Red”, they’re almost always firmly ensconced in and using the Novell services throughout the enterprise, with some confusion as to how and why they might make use of Linux. The first order of business is to determine how much they know about Linux in general, and in particular Novell’s use of SUSE Linux Enterprise in it’s product lines. After hundreds of these discussions, we can get everyone on the same page with a little discussion, some Q&A and a handy whiteboard in short order.

How Does This Work?

For example, in a conversation with faux customer Air America, I find they have a long-standing Netware infrastructure for File and Print, do a little clustering for Groupwise and use iPrint for printing with all account management taking place through an Identity management setup and eDirectory. They have Windows workstations that make full use of the Netware Client and it’s services. I’d already lean toward “Red” strategy with them, but they might be toying with the idea of going “over to Linux”, so I go a little further.

The questions I ask them are very simple and straightforward:

  • Do you have any data on NSS volumes?
  • Do you use any of the advanced features of NSS?
  • Do you have Novell Clustering Services or Business Continuity Clustering set up?
  • Do you have a very large number of printers?
  • Do your people have Novell Client software on their computers for access to the network?

A “yes” answer to any of these questions points to the Open Enterprise Server (with Version 2, OES = Linux base, Novell’s standard services converted to run great on Linux layered on top). Novell has spent a lot of time and effort to make it as effortless as possible to have this type of organization migrate up to OES, there is a very complete and clear path for this customer to begin to use Linux-based Novell services with the least disruption possible and often at a considerable cost-savings.

I will try if possible to help them see where “Green” might fit in, either for hosting Groupwise or other services, such as Mono (Dot Net compatible server), Virtualization (Xen) or any of a host of other possibilities. Usually this type of customer will stay “Red” and for good reason.

“It’s Easy Being Green”

On the other side of this equation, I will find customers who don’t have a lick of “Red” in their environment, and these are usually standard UNIX shops on the server side, usually either a Solaris or AIX flavor, some HP-UX, but they’ll be using mostly Windows on the client side. Usually if they say “No” to my “Got any Novell products or Netware around?”, they will go “Green” easily.

The discussion with this client is much easier, they’re a classic “Green” customer, all the services and tools they are used to using have an analog (equivalent) in the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server/Desktop product line. Once I determine they have no Netware products in the organization, we don’t even talk about “Red vs. Green”, it’s not relevant, they can even run eDirectory and Zenworks Linux Management on SLES, no “Red” needed.

I additionally will probe to see if they have any Terminal Server or Citrix/Ericom deployed for application security and updateability, if they do, it makes the Linux Desktop play much more likely, especially if they make use of TS/Citrix as a desktop solution. How compelling is $50 or less a seat for the presentation OS on the desktop versus $239 or so for the oddly-shaped box o’ Vista?

Got any changes or suggestions to this whole Red vs. Green thing? I’m constantly getting feedback and changing it, let me know and I’ll credit you and update it.

Enjoy,

RossB

Sick of hearing about “Green” yet? Better learn to deal with it, “Green”‘s drumbeat is really just beginning and it’s not just a fad, it’s something that fits a condition we have in IT, and it’s a way to get more money and headcount for managers, so listen up.

What is “Green” computing? Here’s as good a definition as I could find, click through for more from Techtarget.

Green computing is the environmentally responsible use of computers and related resources. Such practices include the implementation of energy-efficient central processing units (CPUs), servers and peripherals as well as reduced resource consumption and proper disposal of electronic waste (e-waste).

One of the earliest initiatives toward green computing in the United States was the voluntary labeling program known as Energy Star. It was conceived by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 to promote energy efficiency in hardware of all kinds. The Energy Star label became a common sight, especially in notebook computers and displays. Similar programs have been adopted in Europe and Asia.

How “Green” is your office environment? Take the Greening the Cube Farm quiz and see!

Last but not least, is buying “Green” storage for business continuity, disaster recovery and archival enough? Not nearly enough, according to the marketing director of Overland Storage.

RossB

Starting off our new series called Vendor Spotlight is a company that I think is doing some very cool things, ThinFusion Inc. The interview was conducted by phone and included Brandon and Rick Vancleeve

What is ThinFusion?

ThinFusion is the combination of a Linux OS platform running in a thin client environment, while providing access to the majority of Windows-based applications. ThinFusion uses either a thin client OS local, paired to a session on a ThinFusion server, or alternatively allows the use of cross-platform client software to provide secure and very speedy access to the ThinFusion Server session literally from anywhere.

ThinFusion provides a single access point to all the Linux and Windows applications that a user needs. The administrative interface allows for simple drag and drop granting and revoking, in realtime, of access to applications on a group or individual level.

What applications can I run on ThinFusion?

This part is easy…
Since it accesses a Windows Terminal Server for Windows apps you can go to Microsoft’s site and find every supported program out there. You don’t have to go through a giant bug list of “quirks” when running Windows apps in a Linux shell. If it runs in a Terminal Server environment, it runs on ThinFusion.

On the Linux side, since you are in essence just accessing a Linux Desktop you can run all your Linux applications.

Who is ThinFusion Inc?

ThinFusion Inc, is a small company in the Mountains of Montana that have developed ThinFusion to meet the needs of K-12 Schools, Higher Ed, and Small to Medium Businesses. ThinFusion mission statement: Access your classroom from anyplace anytime.

What is a typical customer for ThinFusion?

The typical customer would be a school or business that has a need to control access to applications, reduce administrative and technical support costs and increase the quality of service for its users while maintaining the necessary security and controls.

What is a sample use case of ThinFusion?

A school district with a Laptop lab is an excellent use case for ThinFusion. Typically in this environment the Laptops would be running Windows with most applications installed locally. Often the students are issued the laptops and are responsible for physical security and transport, often including off school property and for all purposes becoming the students main machine for home and school. Such an environment has multiple risks and costs associated with it, including re-imaging regularly due to misconfigurations, virus and spy-ware issues and either malicious or inadvertent deletions and changes to the software.

Particularly if the laptops are issued and kept by the students does the risk of virus infection or inadvertent misconfiguration crop up, the possibility of infection and transport of the viruses and spyware becomes a virtual certainty, with some school environments literally being taken down for periods of time from such infections.

ThinFusion in this environment would remove most or all of the issues discussed. Two choices are possible:

1. Install a very slim Desktop Linux with NX Client software on the student laptop, all application access requires dialup or better Internet access to the ThinFusion Server, thus all applications are run in a very secure and less virus-prone environment.
2. Install Windows or keep the current Desktop OS, adding lockdown software and the NX Client software, requiring dialup or better Internet acccess to the ThinFusion Server etc.

Both of the above examples allow students and staff to securely access their school network just as if they were sitting at a desk in class, from anywhere/anytime. It extends the learning environment beyond the walls of the school, and it allows for collaboration beyond the bus bell. This is the mode that we see businesses transitioning to at record pace, as we see more and more workers using home offices and accessing data through secure remote scenarios.

This environment is effective for students and teachers, with teachers mostly falling into the category of # 2, they having the most need to run 3rd party applications that are typically Windows-based.

What are the support options?

A ThinFusion subscription comes with a full support, training and installation package. Higher levels of support packages are available.

What should you not use ThinFusion for?

ThinFusion is not a great solution for high end multimedia, neither for creation nor viewing. A class of 50 users running a very graphically oriented courseware would be fairly choppy.

How do I learn more about ThinFusion?
Please visit their website (www.thinfusion.com), to experience demonstrations, tutorials, case studies and more. You can also reach them by phone at 1-800-432-0346.

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If you can think of an example of a vendor that is going something you can really appreciate and is good for the community, put a comment in or email me: rbrunson[at]novell.com

Enjoy,

RossB

A new Aberdeen Group study reports that as Virtualization keeps expanding both in it’s role in the datacenter and as a tool for consolidation of services/storage and cost savings, it’s becoming even more vital as a way to provide Business Continuity, High Availability and Disaster Recovery.

For us, virtualization is a given. Our system utilization was low and if there was a peak, it only happened for an hour.

The rest of the time our systems are idle. Our application servers are just not using enough of the physical resources.

— Manager of Portal Operations for a Consumer and Applications Portal Company

The report includes a number of case studies and significant findings, such as:

  • 54% of firms use virtualization to support DR plans
  • 48% use virtualization to support HA strategies
  • 50% use virtualization to support BC implementation

For the typical organization who suffers from excess capacity and the costs associated, virtualization is a must. Along with that move to enterprise level virtualization comes the need for enterprise level business continuity planning.

Since the use of virtualization for BC, HA, and DR purposes is still merging, it is imperative that companies make sure it is implemented with the careful planning and testing of systems. This also will help insure there are no unnecessary redundancies and more efficient process in data recovery management. This latter issue, which is just starting to take hold within the physical world, is certainly going to be the next big issue as more companies use virtualization to support BC, HA, and DR processes.

Recovering data generated from virtualized systems will become a crucial discussion in the coming months.

Register for a free copy of the report here.

Enjoy,

RossB

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