Systems management startup Aduva is trying to reduce the cost of managing free software.
As an open source operating system, Linux is available as a free download or through low-cost shrink-wrapped packages. But once the Linux cat is out of the bag, its numerous constituent components can make it difficult to herd, many users agree.
Now, in another sign of Linux's increasing maturity, new tools are helping I-managers better administer the OS. Aduva, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has built a knowledge base with information on which Linux components work best together, along with other open source software modules, such as the various versions of the Apache Web server. It has assembled a library of information on 3,700 components, including versions of Linux that run on the IBM zSeries, formerly known as the System 390 mainframe.
The rules that go into Aduva's knowledge base are derived from its research lab, where it runs Red Hat and SuSE Linux systems continuously, testing their operation in various configurations, says Izor Tarandach, director of technology. Aduva plans to add support for Debian GNU/Linux and Mandrake Linux within a few months, he says.
Tivoli Systems also sells management software for Linux, but it takes a more traditional systems management approach. Instead of focusing on component compatibility, package updates and patches for existing systems, like Aduva does, Tivoli is extending its traditional systems management software to run on Linux.
Aduva Manager software, on the other hand, analyzes a Linux system through agents that send it system parameters. By referencing the online knowledge base, Manager can determine dependencies between various Linux components and which ones function optimally on a given hardware platform.
"We can tell you which version of the Apache Web server works best with your version of Linux," says Tarandach.
Aduva Manager can also assess whether a variety of application servers are geared to work with a given Linux system, ranging from Oracle's Application Server to Tomcat, a free, open source application server. Once it has profiled a system, Aduva Manager can detect when someone has made changes by adding an application or updating a component.
In addition, Manager can play a more proactive role. The software
knows when a security or bug patch has been posted for a given
version of Linux, and will add the patch to a system if its
administrator has directed it to make such a move. Aduva includes
a patch to the knowledge base only after its lab has checked
for compatibility with other components, Tarandach says.
Another software package, Aduva Director, extends Manager's abilities across multiple systems. Director uses multiple agents to analyze and send back information on different systems. It can then determine whether a planned configuration of a Linux system is suitable for the target machine.
Hewlett-Packard is marketing Aduva's package as a Linux add-on to its HP-UX management console, Service Control Manager, and in the future, Aduva's software will have links to HP's OpenView network management system, says Michael Boros, Aduva's director of product marketing. Aduva also is engaged in talks with Computer Associates International to make Director an add-on to CA-Unicenter system management, he says.