Linux permanently changed the landscape of the datacenter by creating a community approach to rapid innovation. Its introduction and widespread adoption have fueled a shift from closed to open systems, often times providing greater resiliency than other operating environments. Commodity x86 architectures are only one slice of a much larger market for reliable open source enterprise-class systems – and Linux has for many years been a cross-platform operating system. For example, did you know that Red Hat Enterprise Linux also runs on IBM’s Power Systems (POWER) and z Systems architectures? These options give IT organizations flexibility with respect to hardware for workloads and use cases ranging from big data analytics to cloud computing. Ensuring that Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs on IBM’s Power Systems and z Systems architectures gives our customers a broad range of application and deployment choices.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Power and Red Hat Enterprise Linux for System z are built on the same Red Hat Enterprise Linux base as for x86 systems, but also include additional components and different versions of userspace packages to suit the targeted hardware and firmware. Development of these architecture-specific versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux involves tight coordination between Red Hat and IBM. While they undergo the same level of testing as does Red Hat Enterprise Linux for x86 systems, the testing is (of course) executed on the targeted hardware and is timed so as to ensure alignment with the base Red Hat Enterprise Linux release schedule.
So what’s new in the world of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Power? Red Hat and IBM have recently invested significant resources in expanding support for the POWER architecture. In fact, we recently announced Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Power and made a beta available of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Power (little endian mode), which are just the first two milestones in a long-term strategy to bring more hardware and operating system choice and flexibility to the datacenter together with IBM.
Why all the fuss about little endian? It matters to applications. x86 applications expect data bytes to be sequenced in one direction; z Systems applications expect them to be sequenced in the other direction; Power Systems run both big and little endian simultaneously. Adding support for the little endian mode to POWER8 gives IT organizations more flexibility over applications and a much larger ecosystem of partner solutions to chose from. For our customers, this means Linux applications can migrate freely between POWER-based and x86-based systems, or in between both, leveraging the specific advantages in each platform. Again, trust and flexibility and because Power Systems run both big and little endian simultaneously, businesses aren’t forced to choose one or the other, they can run both (…or better said: whichever is supported by the ISV they select to bring value to their business).
What’s the bottom line?
As Red Hat rounds out its portfolio of physical and virtual platforms for POWER processor-based servers, IBM and Red Hat customers will have more options across the board—scale-up or scale-out hardware, little or big endian applications, operating system and hypervisor–as they build out their modern datacenters. Now is the time for businesses to run Linux on Power as a highly competitive alternative for the datacenter.