Standardising Unix/Linux Systems Infrastructure

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On Wednesday a number of people met representing the different factions within Infrastructure; Systems and Operations, Network team, Email, who deal with Unix and Linux systems administration. I presented a number of slides to explain some of the issues that we are presented with and how we may use some standard best practises to help deal with the increasing pressure of managing the diversity of systems that are running core services. The scope of the systems and services covered included middleware and Web Services development and production environments, core Infrastructure Services including email and DNS, “glue” services such as are used by backup, storage, networking and wireless infrastructures. Service which were not in scope of the discussion were; Enterprise database systems such as Oracle, corporate and business services requiring specialist platform support, research or high performance computing environments like those hosted by ACRC and in departments. The goals are to reduce the administrative overhead and Total Cost of Ownership of disparate management and diversity. Reduce hardware and licensing costs. Increase exposure of skills throughout team members by utilising tools and methods to increase automation, reliability, stability and resilience. Introduce interchangeable hardware and rack configuration between different platforms.

There were some interesting conversations on topics relating to the correct tools and platforms to choose as a standard. Although, it was understood that all platforms had their specific use case and advantages, a hard push to standardise on a single platform OS for 80% of systems is necessary. Due to previous successes and experiences in the team, Debian GNU/Linux has been chosen as the main platform. This will at this stage be only applied to “Web Services” and Infrastructure systems and is not at this time being recommended as the default Linux/Unix distribution for the University. Enterprise application and database services will continue to be provided by Oracle Solaris operating systems and hardware. Scientific Linux (based on Red Hat) is recognised as a popular choice for research and HPC in zones.
The slides for the presentation can be downloaded from this blog in PDF format: standard-os.pdf (176Kb)