The UNIX® platform has long provided leading support for the performance and scalability required for large-scale applications. Recent innovations for the x86 platform, however, have allowed organizations to enhance total cost of ownership and performance for their large-scale applications to levels that can be competitive with UNIX-based platforms. As adoption of the x86 platform for enterprise-class servers continues to expand—along with innovations in virtualization, such as the VMware® vSphere™ virtualization environment and enhancements for virtualization in the Intel® Nehalem architecture for processors—many organizations may consider the benefits of migrating from UNIX to the x86 platform. This discussion focuses on the complexities and considerations involved when planning a platform migration.

Cost-Saving Opportunities

There are three cost-saving areas that RISC migration can provide:

  • Capital costs: Costs for hardware can be significant, and costs for similarly configured and capable Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers can be significantly lower than RISC-based equivalents. In addition, costs for related storage and other hardware are typically reduced with industry-standard servers. Data center cost efficiencies can also be realized when aging RISC-based servers that can be less energy efficient than newer PowerEdge servers are replaced—often with fewer servers—to help avoid or reduce data center expansion costs.
  • Operating costs: Operating costs are an area where RISC migration can have the enhanced benefits. Costs to manage and maintain RISC-based servers can be extensive; system maintenance alone may be more costly than replacing the servers; software licensing can often be reduced on industry-standard servers; staffing for RISC server skills can add cost; and, as noted previously, RISC-based servers are usually less energy efficient and require higher data center costs than industry-standard servers. Reductions in all these areas may be possible with a migration from RISC servers to PowerEdge servers.
  • Opportunity costs: In addition to capital and operating costs, there are other costs to maintaining a RISC-server environment. Retaining a RISC environment in addition to an industry-standard environment adds complexity, particularly when multiple platforms, software versions, personnel skills, and policies must be maintained. Flexibility can be reduced with RISC-based servers from limits and/or lock-in on vendors, operating systems, applications, and services available for that platform. And technology advances often pass by RISC vendors, as the development cycles and R&D are not as robust as those with industry-standard systems. Migrating from RISC servers offers organizations the ability to help simplify IT, enhance flexibility, keep up with technology, and help deliver costs-effective approaches for organizations.

It's Easier Than It Seems

With all the benefits and potential for cost-efficiency, it's surprising that some organizations still haven't migrated from RISC-based systems. They believe the challenges of the migration outweigh future advantages. As thousands of Dell-supported organizations and many others have found, this approach is no longer valid. There are guides, best practices, and services to help organizations of all sizes and skill sets successfully migrate from RISC-based systems to Dell PowerEdge servers.

Resources & Links

  • UNIX Migration 10-13-09 UNIX to x86 Migration - The Dell TechCenter
    Develops a thorough analysis for migrating from a UNIX/RISC environment to standards-based Dell servers utilizing either a Microsoft® Windows® or Linux® OS.
  • Fast Track to Linux 10-13-09 UNIX to x86 Migration - The Dell TechCenter
    Provides an evaluation of the potential benefits of Linux within an organization's enterprise environment and implements a "pilot program" to evaluate and validate Linux performance and cost-effectiveness.

Novell/Intel Technical Whitepaper: Make the Move from UNIX* to Linux*: Now Is the Time

SUSE: UNIX to Linux Migration - Reduce Server Costs by 75%

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