Sunsets can last a while, but in the end the sun will go down. I talk to a lot of companies and listen to a lot of data center managers. Customers trust their AIX-Power and Solaris-Sparc platforms. These are solid platforms and deliver good features and reliability, but, if these managers could get the sense of security, performance, and reliability with Linux / Intel Xeon platforms, they would move tomorrow. It is simple economics.
The reality is that customers are making this move, and being successful. The hardware reliability on Intel platforms today is amazing. Intel recently announced that their next generation of Xeon(Nehalem) EX based servers will support Machine Check Architecture. This brings high end Xeon X86 servers into the RAS family previously reserved to proprietary RISC & mainframe platforms. Intel Xeon already eclipses the performance of proprietary RISC processors both on a per processor basis and a per dollar basis. It is reasonable to say Xeon can deliver better performance, better value, and equal or better reliability. The only hurdle left is the software.
Linux has come a long ways. It is no longer a university OS, run by geeky dudes in black T-shirts emblazoned with the quadratic formula. It is mainstream and solidly supported. Linux is the primary development and delivery platform for Oracle. Other OS environments are ports, delaying support and innovation. Linux is used by major financial companies. Linux is available in solid and well supported distributions with a 20 year history of enterprise business. Linux experts are broad community, worldwide, and growing in number. Linux is economical vs proprietary RISC.
In an era of big budgets and conservative (don’t make any changes) philosophies, businesses will always stick to their proprietary RISC systems. That era is over. Sticking to your RISC systems may seem like the safe move, but failing to examine the opportunities for better performance and lower cost with Linux on Intel Xeon platforms is business negligence. Business negligence is seldom rewarded.
Performance, Price, Infrastructure, Ecosystem, TCO, RAS – when the decision factors are examined it becomes clear - we are in the RISC twilight and the sun will set on Sparc-Solaris and Power-AIX.