Linux takes confidence says RS/6000 supporter

Implementing Linux demands more confidence than many users yet have in the open-source operating system, says an Auckland company that specializes in support for IBM Corp.'s RS/6000 machines.

Paul Tomlinson, of eight-month-old Spectrum Consulting Ltd., says despite IBM's backing of the operating system, large-scale projects based on Linux are not common.

"Linux is still in a growth phase and is very good, but companies want the reliability that you get when the software is written specifically for the hardware. That's why the RS/6000 is so stable. All the parts and device drivers have been certified by IBM."

Tomlinson's business is built entirely on RS/6000 work. Despite it being a niche market, he believes supporting the RS/6000 (now known as the pSeries) and its AIX operating system warrants a specialist company. Tomlinson, who worked for systems integrator CSI before setting up Spectrum Consulting, focuses on RS/6000 system design, implementation, configuration and administration and believes he offers an alternative to IBM's Global Services arm.

IBM's RS/6000-related Linux moves include testing and certifying SuSE Linux for B50 rack-mountable servers. Last year it released AIX 5L with "Linux affinity" -- the ability to run recompiled Linux programs on RS/6000 servers.

AIX 5L is designed for transaction-intensive database environments and high-speed processing on RS/6000s. It includes system and debug tools and the ability to work in mixed Unix environments and supports features such as multipath I/O and symmetrical multiprocessing. AIX 5L also adds a workload manager that lets IT professionals define how applications will be handled and allocate processor cycles, real memory and disk I/O to them so they will perform optimally.

Disaster recovery is one of the hot issues confronting RS/6000 customers, which tend to be companies with more than 100 staff, he says.

Spectrum has about seven customers including Daimler Chrysler and Ezibuy and has provided training services for IBM Global Services.

Tomlinson recently acquired a rack-mountable pSeries, the newest and most high-end RS/6000, which he uses for development and testing.

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