Home > Uncategorized > Red Hat Enterprise Linux plus IBM Hardware equals Performance Computing

Red Hat Enterprise Linux plus IBM Hardware equals Performance Computing

April 18, 2012

Red Hat, Inc. is the clear leader in the Linux market. It has the strongest, commercially supported Linux distribution and the best-performing virtualization solution for servers and desktops. It is the first billion dollar open source company in the world and is the most successful Linux company thanks in part to its dedication to the open source community and free software. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), its flagship Linux product, is the one to watch in the data center for enterprise-level workloads including databases, application delivery and virtualization.

In addition to high performance standalone server computing and virtualization, KVM offers competitive technology for virtual desktop computing. Virtual desktop computing or VDI moves your desktop operating system away from local hardware and places it on enterprise-level server systems in your data center.

What you’re looking for in a hardware/software combined server solution is performance, upgradability, support, scalability and affordability. Red Hat and IBM have formed an alliance to make this perfect recipe a reality with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and IBM Server x series server hardware.

Red Hat Performance and Lower TCO

You can hardly deny Red Hat’s superior performance when Oracle, owner of Solaris, develops and runs its own Linux version (Oracle Linux) based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Oracle continues to certify its database product on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (Oracle certified its 11gR2 database on RHEL 6 on March 22, 2012).

Red Hat continues to make marked improvements in the following areas for its RHEL product line:

  • CPU/Kernel – Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA), scheduling, Read-Copy-Update (RCU) and extreme guest virtual CPU scaling.
  • Memory – Transparent Huge Pages for optimal hardware-based virtualization.
  • Networking – VhostNet – Network stack moved to kernel.
  • Block – Asynchronous I/O, MSI caching protocol, vectored I/O.

These ongoing enhancements make Red Hat’s Linux and its associated KVM virtualization platform an efficient combination for standalone or virtualized systems.

For specific operating systems, you’ll experience near native performance for virtual machines at all operational levels. Red Hat recommends that you distinctly identify your operating system at installation so that OS-specific optimizations can be applied. For Linux operating systems, the boost in guest NFS write performance is more than 12%–a result of specifying the OS type at VM creation.

But, performance in the operating system isn’t useful without the underlying hardware to support it. RHEL 6’s design takes advantage of hardware enhancements such as NUMA, hardware-assisted virtualization, networking and block device hooks that go unused if the hardware’s design is flawed or doesn’t contain supported features. In other words, you can’t architect a solution based solely on software or on hardware alone—you have to consider all aspects of a solution.

IBM’s System x servers, for example, are the perfect mix with RHEL 6.x to lower your TCO. With this combination, you can expect as high as a 20:1 server consolidation ratio and up to 95% lower power consumption with System x series hardware.

To further save money, you can virtualize workloads on KVM that were once thought to be standalone server only capable. Some examples are IBM’s DB2 database, Lotus Domino, Tivoli products and Websphere.

Built-in Scalability

Many people talk about scalability, and it’s a cute buzzword to toss around, but RHEL can actually do it. Scale, that is. Scalability is important, if you need it. If you don’t need it, then it’s really a non-issue. As it stands now, RHEL 6.x’s scalability far exceeds the practical limits of current mid-range (x86_64) hardware. However, if you require filesystems that support very large file sizes (up to 16TB), 64 processors or multiple terabytes of memory, RHEL is at home on a variety of architectures and hardware types—from x86, AMD64, Intel 64 on the low and mid-range end to IBM Mainframes at the high end. The scalability is available when you need it.

One of the problems with scalability is that you can scale yourself into a performance conundrum by relying on theoretical limits instead of the accepted practical limits. For example, RHEL 6 has a supported 2TB memory limit and a 64TB theoretical limit (x86_64 architecture), so the edict comes down from above that the system administrator should double a system’s memory from 64GB to 128GB to increase performance. Everything works in theory but without some ‘tweaking,’ the system administrator finds that performance actually decreases in this scenario. Unexpected results, if you don’t understand capacity management*.

Desktop Virtualization

If you want to invest in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), you should seriously consider KVM for its extreme performance delivery. KVM supports both Windows and Linux desktops with exceptional end user experience via its (now open source) SPICE dynamically adaptive remote rendering protocol. SPICE delivers a desktop experience that is virtually indistinguishable from a local desktop experience complete with multimedia support.

VDI can be another TCO-lowering move for mid-sized businesses. With it, you can move all of your operating system maintenance to the data center so that your users can focus on productivity instead of dealing with antivirus updates, application updates, Windows updates, reboots and interruptions by support staff to install an application or update. Visits to staff desks will be limited to hardware replacement and deployment, which takes minutes instead of hours since you’ve removed the operating system from the mix.

VDI requires some initial investment but the long-term savings is worth it, if your organization has the capability of moving that direction. An assessment by a competent IT strategist will help you decide if VDI is right for you.

IBM and Red Hat

IBM was an early adopter of Linux and formed partnerships with Red Hat that are now well into their second decade. IBM also defended Linux against the lengthy and expensive lawsuit launched by SCO. IBM’s support of open source and Linux is long-standing and proven by its release of patents to the open source community to promote innovation and industry growth in an open and collaborative atmosphere.

*Rely on Red Hat’s and IBM’s experience, when attempting to boost performance output.

IBM for Midsize Business
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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