Running mission-critical applications on Enterprise Linux servers

At the core of any organisation are important IT systems that are vital for continued successful operation. Mission-critical applications, such as ERP, CRM, business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics, advance and support business in many fundamental ways. In the modern, global corporate landscape, it is almost certain that users will need to access these systems at any time of day, demanding around-the-clock, 24/7 availability. Any outage of mission-critical server infrastructure directly impacts revenue and profitability, so downtime must be avoided.

Mission-critical enterprise systems typically rely on expensive Unix or mainframe servers to fulfil high-availability and reliability requirements. Due in part to increasing budgetary constraints and initiatives promoting open standards, this situation has been changing recently. With a shift towards x86-based commodity server hardware, Intel has worked hard to develop reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) features in its Xeon processors, with recent hardware optimisations leading to better scalability and performance.

The Intel Xeon E7 processor family implements a powerful collection of RAS capabilities designed to minimize the frequency, cost, and duration of system downtime, which is vital for mission-critical services. Based on key concepts such as self-monitoring and self-healing, this technology enables servers to monitor key sub-systems for errors, and automatically repair known issues. Detecting and correcting problems (or isolating problems that cannot be immediately rectified) is important to maintain system integrity and protect mission-critical data. Support for multiple layers of system component redundancy and subsequent automated failover functionality ensures a higher level of availability. Servers powered by Intel Xeon E7 processors can take advantage of predictive failure analysis to identify problematic components before they fail, allowing them to be replaced during regular maintenance cycles, and ultimately minimising service costs.

Software support for hardware RAS features implemented by the Intel Xeon E7 processor family is included in the Linux operating system. With the largest subscription base in the industry, Red Hat Enterprise Linux has a proven track record of running mission-critical workloads, and can be deployed on either physical servers or in cloud environments. Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux High Availability Add-On offers failover clustering to further increase availability of mission-critical applications. The company also offers load balancing, a storage platform, and a scalable file system for improved system reliability.

To ensure the smooth operation of important business processes, mission-critical applications must run on highly reliable and available platforms. The emergence of Intel Xeon-powered commodity servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux has provided a competitive alternative to traditional Unix systems for mission-critical tasks. This new approach to building infrastructure using standards-based hardware will allow organisations to re-architect their datacentre to become the foundation of next-generation private and hybrid cloud solutions.