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3 Things You Should Know When Moving Linux to Power

By Ken Gullo - Jun 17, 2016

If you are still running Linux on x86 servers, it might be time to consider a move to Power. Some IT leaders hesitate to make the move because they are under the impression that Power is more expensive than x86 servers. Others are concerned about having to retrain staff and recode applications.

Not only is the cost of Power comparable to x86, but the boost in performance guarantees a greater return on investment. According to an IDC study, moving to Linux on Power shows a 14% increase in user productivity combined with a 60% decrease in infrastructure costs.

The increased computing performance of Power makes it ideal for big data workloads. Compared to x86, Power has 4 times the threads per processor cycle, so it can keep up with the demands of analyzing huge volumes of unstructured data.

While migrating to a new technology is always a big step to take, moving Linux from x86 to Power can be a smooth transition if you remember a few key points.

The top 3 things you should know when moving to Linux on Power are:

1) Time your Linux on Power migration wisely.
Instead of putting off a move until your workload demands outpace your capacity, plan ahead. If you move before you’re required to—or before you are forced to migrate due to failing systems—you have more time to develop a sound migration strategy.

Developing a plan allows you to anticipate the resources you will need to make the move, like budget, staff, and equipment. With advanced notice, you don’t have to make due. Now you have the time to requisition more resources if needed.

Planning ahead also reduces risk. To avoid taking chances, you can assess all your software and tools for compatibility. If most of your applications can be ported with little or no code changes, a move to Power may be the right choice for you.

2) Porting applications can be accomplished with little risk.
Transferring all your applications to a new system may seem overwhelming, but with POWER8, compatibility issues are reduced to a minimum. In fact, most x86 applications port to Power with no source code changes.

After a decade of working with Linux, Power has evolved to provide support for little endian modes.
Any application written in a scripting language like Ruby, PHP, Java, and Python will be compatible. The IBM Software Development Kit allows you to run 95% of compiled applications, such as C/C++, with a simple recompile.

To prepare for your migration, list all the software you want to include in the migration. Note the type of software, whether big or little endian, in-house or 3rd party. Then check to see if a Power technology-certified version is available. The remaining applications can be recompiled on the Power server for testing.

Working with an IBM Client Center can help you develop a risk management plan for your applications.

3) IBM has your back.
The IBM Client Center is just one example of the many resources available to companies planning a migration to Linux on Power. Ever since IBM invested $1 billion dollars in Linux, they have worked to develop a robust support network for the system.

The IBM Migration Factory is their world-class migration service offering. Working with thousands of customers, IBM has designed a time-tested methodology for reducing the cost and risk of moving to Linux on Power.

IBM also provides tools that make migration and implementation a snap. The IBM Installation Wizard offers both a text-based and graphic user interface-based environment so you can choose the easiest option for your staff.

Better yet, many of these resources—ranging from application toolkits to migration kits and services—are free. IBM also provides pre and post-migration funding.

Move On Up to Linux on Power

With support from IBM and a little pre-planning, your move to Linux on Power can be a breeze. Moving Linux to Power doesn’t require that you rework all your processes.

Most applications can be ported with little or no recoding. Not only are you able to use most of your applications, but the tools you need are still available, like Linux distributions, NoSQL and open source databases, and developer tools.

You are not alone as you embark on your migration journey. IBM provides ample support to ensure that you have the right resources and expertise for a risk-free migration.