Category Archives: UNIX

The Cloud: What’s UNIX® Got to Do With It?

By The Open Group

Cloud computing has come of age and is the solution of choice for CIOs looking to maximize use of resources while minimizing capital spend.[1] Cloud solutions, whether it is infrastructure, platform or service, have the appeal of business agility[2], without having to understand what is “under the hood”. However, what’s under the hood becomes even more important in a Cloud environment because there can be multiple services running with potential impact on numerous customers and the services provided to them.  For software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) the hosting operating system is a critical component included in with Cloud environment as it directly impacts the performance of the Cloud solution. For infrastructure as a service (IaaS) the operating system is a critical choice made by the customer.

The CIO View

The CIO loves the idea of having the ability to rapidly provide on-demand ubiquitous computing resources to their company without the management overhead and integration challenges. The hardware infrastructure, network infrastructure, storage, hypervisor and OS must have high availability, scalability, and performance to meet the “5-nines” reliability expected (SCIT Report) with the operating system being especially critical component in that stack.[3]

UNIX, A Robust Platform for Cloud:

The Cloud needs to be highly available, scalable, secure, and robust for high-demand computing.  A certified UNIX® OS can provide this and enables companies to innovate in the Cloud.  A CIO would be looking at each element of the stack with a high degree of assurance that the Cloud solution has been well tested and has proven system and application interoperability, which also simplifies solution integration. The UNIX OS amplifies this simplicity delivering peace of mind for IT directors and above.

Who Is Choosing a UNIX Cloud?

Cloud Solution/Hosting Providers look to a UNIX Cloud infrastructure to service financial institutions looking to support high transactional environments like online and mobile banking marketplace.[4] Moreover, UNIX Cloud infrastructure provides a cost-effective, secure, and redundant environment.[5]

“Verizon serves both customers and employees with a UNIX Cloud infrastructure that implements enhanced agility, superior performance, easy maintainability, and effective cost control,” said Chris Riggin, Enterprise Architect at Verizon.[6]

HPE, IBM, and Oracle have expanded their services offerings to deliver UNIX mission-critical cloud and enterprise infrastructure, including their branded systems.  These UNIX Cloud solutions help their customers continue to scale while delivering business continuity and a low total cost of ownership.[7]

By The Open Group

Get more tools and resources on UNIX innovation on www.opengroup.org/UNIX or review these other resources today:

@theopengroup

© 2016 The Open Group

UNIX® is a Registered Trademark of The Open Group. Oracle® Solaris is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation. IBM AIX is a trademark of IBM Corporation. HP-UX is a registered trademark of HPE.

 

[1] Harvard Business Review, Cloud Computing Comes of Age, Page 3, 2015, https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/s/delivery_production/docs/FY15h1/doc16/HBR-Oracle-Report-webview.pdf

[2] Harvard Business Review, Cloud Computing Comes of Age, Page 3, 5, 6; 2015, https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/s/delivery_production/docs/FY15h1/doc16/HBR-Oracle-Report-webview.pdf

[3] UNIX: The “Always On” OS, 2016, https://blog.opengroup.org/2016/04/18/unix-the-always-on-os/

[4] Connectria / Sybase Customer Success Story:  http://www.connectria.com/content/case_studies/connectria_flyer_sybase_case_study.pdf

[5] Connectria AIX Hosting: http://www.connectria.com/technologies/aix_hosting.php

[6] UNIX Based Cloud, Harry Foxwell, Principal Consultant, Oracle, February 2016, https://blog.opengroup.org/2016/02/03/the-unix-based-cloud/

[7] a. http://www8.hp.com/us/en/business-solutions/solution.html?compURI=1167850#.VyfQzD9EmPB

  1. https://www.openstack.org/marketplace/distros/distribution/oracle/oracle-openstack-for-oracle-solaris
  2. http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/power/solutions/cloud/

 

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UNIX®: Lowering the Total Cost of Ownership

By The Open Group

The value of UNIX, as a technology and as a standard, has clearly been significant over its 45-year history as a technology and its 20-years as an open standard leading to tremendous innovation across numerous industries.  Developers, integrators and customers have benefited from its origins as open development platform to becoming an open standard. Recent blog articles have showcased how UNIX makes software development easier[1], is highly available[2], more secure[3] and scalable.  Total cost of ownership (TCO) is another area that has benefited from the UNIX standard and the operating systems that are UNIX certified.  For this article, TCO is primarily defined as the cost of acquisition, maintenance, and updating of a solution.

UNIX, an Open Group standard, enables customers’ choices in the building blocks for their desired solution. The choices come from the numerous UNIX certified operating systems on the market today – IBM AIX, HPE HP-UX, Inspur K-UX and Oracle Solaris to name a few.  The acquisition cost, as a part of the total cost of ownership, is also lower because of the compatibility and interoperability benefits of the UNIX standard.  IT organizations do not have to spend time fighting integration interoperability and incompatibility issues often found in non-certified operating systems.  Bottom line is that there is greater choice with less integration overhead leading to lower cost of acquisition.

The UNIX standard benefits the maintenance component of TCO ensuring there is compatibility and interoperability at the level of the operating system (OS) and the software dependencies on that OS. A UNIX certified OS also provides assurance of a level of quality with more than 45,000 functional tests having been passed to achieve certification. Of course, the other benefit of the UNIX standard is that it provides consistent system commands regardless of what UNIX OS is running in your data center so you don’t need train administrators on multiple operating systems or even have different administrators for different operating systems. An estimated 49% of system downtime is caused by human error, which should be mitigated by having custom ways to manage systems. UNIX provides greater determinism, which helps reduce maintenance component of TCO.[4]

The UNIX standard improves cost for system updates. While most OS vendors have their own method of doing system updates, there is greater confidence with UNIX compliant OS that regardless of how the update occurs the software and overall solution can rely on the continued assurance of consistent APIs, behavior, etc.  This turns out to be important as solutions get bigger and more complex the need to ensure continuity becomes particularly critical. Having standards in place help ensure that continuity in an ever changing solution.

TCO is greatly reduced because a UNIX certified operating system lowers the acquisition, maintenance and updating costs. The benefits of UNIX mentioned above also hint at reduced administrative, training and operational costs which also reduces the total cost of ownership which also should be consider in evaluating solution cost. IT decision makers should consider how choosing an operating system that is UNIX certified will benefit the TCO profile of their solution(s). This is especially true because making standards a requirement, during acquisition, costs so little yet can have such substantial benefits to TCO, enabling accelerated innovation and demonstrating good IT governance.

Cost of Ownership Price Tag Good Value Investment ROI

Get more information on UNIX with new tools and resources available at www.opengroup.org/UNIX or review some selected resources below:

[1] https://blog.opengroup.org/2016/03/11/unix-allowing-engineers-to-engineer

[2] https://blog.opengroup.org/2016/04/18/unix-the-always-on-os/

[3] https://blog.opengroup.org/2016/03/24/o-armor-unix-armor/

[4] https://blog.opengroup.org/2016/04/18/unix-the-always-on-os/

@theopengroup

 

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UNIX®: The “Always On” OS

By The Open Group

“High availability”, in its simplest definition, “is a characteristic of a system, which aims to ensure an agreed level of operational performance for a higher than normal period.”[1] For computer systems high availability generally focuses on the technologies that maximize system uptime by building in fault tolerance to overcome application, operating system, and hardware failures. Uptime is often measured by the “number of 9s” of availability percentage with, for example 99% (two nines), meaning a system is down for 3.65 days a year for planned and unplanned downtime. Based on the 2015-2016 ITIC Reliability Report, 99% was a common expectation in the mid-90s, but of the 71% companies surveyed, there is an expectation of 99.99% (four 9s or 52.56 minutes per year) and 25% expect 99.999% (five 9s or 5.26 minutes of downtime).[2] For mission critical environments, 99.999% is a great example of high availability operational performance expectation.

The ITIC Report enumerates numerous reasons for lack of achieving high availability (Exhibit 2 in the report) with human error being a major contributor (49%) and several others revolving aspects of the operating systems/software (security flows, bugs in OS, integration/interoperability issues, lack of documentation, lack of training, etc.).

The UNIX Standard is intended to address many of those issues impacting system reliability and uptime by providing a robust foundation including standard/apis to make it easier to build reliable and interpolatable software, common utilities/commands to make it easier to learn and administer, supported by robust documentation (1700+ manual pages), and a fair degree of quality assurance with more than 45,000 functional tests. Collectively, all of these features and technical documentation creates a great foundation within a UNIX operating system, which then can compliment the software and hardware solutions focused on improving high availability.

By The Open Group

The UNIX standard and the compliant operating systems are only one piece of the high availability story since it is part of the broader ecosystem that companies have come to rely on for their high availability solutions across the globe in key vertical industries such as telecom, banking, stock trading, Pharma/medical, infrastructure, etc. The five-9s can support multi-millions of dollars in revenue; save lives; deliver astronauts safely into space; deliver a robust foundation in global defense, and much more.

“A solid foundation is built upon standards, because standards provide assurance. Hewlett Packard Enterprise UNIX standards develop and deliver consistency. As we look at this, we talk about consistent APIs, consistent command line, and consistent integration between users and applications. A deterministic behavior is critical to high availability, because when it’s non-deterministic, things go wrong,” said Jeff Kyle, Director, Mission Critical Solutions, HPE. The UNIX standard is evolving to nurture the ecosystem and deliver what the market demands in these mission critical environments. When continuous computing for workloads is vital to the enterprise, the UNIX operating system is the best solution. The result is a proven infrastructure that accelerates business value and lowers your risk for the “always on” mission critical environments.[3]

Watch the UNIX: Journey of Innovation video to learn more about the UNIX value and importance to the market.

© The Open Group 2016

UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group. HP-UX is a registered trademark of HPE.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_availability

[2] ITIC 2015 – 2016 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability Report — http://www.idgconnect.com/view_abstract/33194/itic-2015-2016-global-server-hardware-server-os-reliability-report

[3] http://h17007.www1.hp.com/za/en/business-critical/operating-environments/hpux11i/index.aspx#.VvsPpT9ElhM

 

 

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O-ARMOR: UNIX® Armor

By The Open Group

Security is at the forefront of the IT industry today. Customers are looking for secure solutions that solve their IT challenges. Permissions and privacy are just a few of the security features that are highly sought after.

The latest UNIX® standard has evolved to meet industry demands with the addition of the Authorization Role Managed On RBAC, also known as O-ARMOR, an Open Group standard. While access controls through users, group IDs, and permissions have long been a requirement of the standard, the increasing demands of enterprise customers drove adoption with UNIX software and systems vendors. The days of using chmod 777 are no longer a viable way to share files, executable, or just giving every user root permissions. Moreover, even sharing the root password with administrators is not a good security practice.

Multi-user operating systems must innovate in today’s threat landscape. An IT governance and best practice necessitates giving the right people the right access at the right time. Look at the case of Edward Snowden, who had what most would say was unfettered access to data, which later was leaked in an embarrassing and damaging way . Enter role-based access control (RBAC), which is a policy neutral access control mechanism defined around roles and privileges with components such as role-permissions, user-role and role-role relationships. With RBAC, storage administrators can now have access to data and commands to do their job. On UNIX systems, Human Resources personnel can be given access to confidential information that general users would not.

The O-ARMOR standard defines a set of administrative roles consistent with generally accepted tasks assigned to system administrators. These roles can be customized to include the appropriate applications for each compliant UNIX system. The standard also provides an application programming interface (API) through which privileged applications can grant access to authorized users and roles. The strength of O-ARMOR is that the roll-based access controls can be consistently implemented and executed on systems running the same compliant operating system and even across heterogeneous operating systems that are compliant.

Being “armored” means better access control resulting in better security simplifying management of those access controls across the data center.

If you care about security, or ease of security management, ask your system vendor if their operating systems are UNIX certified with RBAC and complies with the O-ARMOR standard.

By The Open Group

Learn more about the UNIX operating system by watching The Journey of Innovation video.

 

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What Hoverboards Tell Us About Compatibility and the Need for Standards

By Steve Nunn, President and CEO, The Open Group

Every holiday season, there is always one gift everyone just has to have. This past year, that honor went to the hoverboard, a self-balancing scooter reminiscent of the skateboards many of us rode as kids, but with an electric motor and only two wheels—and even harder to master!

But, just as quickly as the hoverboards were flying off the shelves in December, sales for the scooters plummeted by mid-January when questions arose regarding the safety of the electrical components that make up the scooters’ drive train system. The toys became linked to a number of fires across the U.S. and, just between December and mid-February, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported receiving complaints about more than 52 hoverboard-related fires in 24 states, resulting in not only $2M in property damage, but the destruction of two homes and an automobile. In addition, many of the major retailers that had been carrying the product-–including Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart, have currently discontinued sales of the product over the fire concerns.

The self-balancing scooter industry is clearly hurting these days. How can a product that was the darling of the moment—featured on many Instagram, Vine and YouTube accounts, that gained the attention of celebrities from Jamie Foxx to Justin Bieber—so quickly turn into a pariah?

In short—a lack of compatible standards.

Although many hoverboards actually carry the UL seal and claim to conform to safety standards set by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), an independent product testing company that sets safety standards, what has come to light since the product fires is that, while many of the individual components being used in self-balancing scooters are indeed safety compliant, they are not certified to be used together, making the entire product potentially unsafe. One radio announcer may have said it best when he likened the issue to having a car that was safety approved, and a surfboard that was safety approved, but when you put the surfboard on top of the car, it doesn’t mean the car will float.

The hoverboard controversy serves as a painful lesson for makers and manufacturers about component compatibility, and the need for standards that address not just individual product components but also the product as a whole. The sad thing is that could have been avoided had makers taken the time to test the components together, or create a standard that certifies the components can work together safely.

By contrast, The Open Group certification of products that conforms to the UNIX® standard has taken this “components working together” approach for more than 20 years. The Single UNIX Specification was created, in part, to take care of just this type of problem. In 1993, when the standard was created, there were so many UNIX APIs being used in various segments of the technology industry.  The three leading standards bodies that were creating UNIX standards decided to come together to design one standard that would be comprised of a superset of the most widely used UNIX APIs. Even then, there were a large number of APIs that made up the first version of the standard. In fact, the original standard, SPEC 1170, was named thus because it included a set of 1,170 compatible UNIX APIs.

This level of compatibility has always been a critical part of the UNIX standard. Since many vendors across the industry have created their own APIs and flavors of UNIX over the years, compatibility across those systems has been the key to interoperability for UNIX systems throughout the industry. Whenever a product is certified under the Single UNIX specification, it is guaranteed to both conform to the standard, and also be interoperable with any other certified products and any of the APIs contained under the umbrella of the single specification.

Today, there are more than 2,000 separate APIs contained in the UNIX standard—all compatible with each other. To reach this level of compatibility, The Open Group, which administers the Single UNIX Specification, performs extensive testing on any product submitted for certification under the UNIX standards. Any system that is UNIX certified has gone through more than 40,000 tests to assure their compatibility and conformance to the standard.

Among the more unique attributes of the Single UNIX Specification is that the standard also contains a three-pronged guarantee for interoperability. Not only does UNIX certification guarantee a certified product conforms to the standard, but every vendor that certifies a product to the standard also agrees that its product will continue to conform to the standard while certified.  The vendor also guarantees to fix any problems with the product’s conformance within a prescribed amount of time, should the product fall out of compliance.

This type of warranty and level of rigor within the standard further guarantee that all the components are compatible and will work together. The high level of testing around the standard has worked extremely well throughout the years. In the entire history of UNIX certification by The Open Group, there has only been one challenge to a product’s conformance to the standard—and it was a very obscure calculation that was taken very seriously, and quickly fixed by, the vendor. Because every vendor who participates in the program relies on a guarantee that every other vendor’s products all conform to the standard, the system takes care of itself.

Of course, non-compliance to the Single UNIX Specification is unlikely to lead to house fires or spontaneously combusting skateboards. But there are a great many technologies that businesses and consumers rely on everyday that work together because of the compatibility that UNIX offers. If there were bugs in those systems, our desktops, mobile phones, our Internet-enabled devices—even the Internet itself—might not work together. Without the guaranteed component compatibility offered by common standards like the Single UNIX Specification, one thing is for sure—we would all be a lot less productive.

UL has announced that they are in the process of developing a standard for hoverboards. The new certification, UL 2272, will focus on the safety of the combined electrical drive train system, battery and charger combination for self-balancing scooters. It is not yet known when the standard will be available.

By Steve Nunn, President and CEO, The Open Group

Steve Nunn is President and CEO of The Open Group – a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through IT standards. He is also President of the Association of Enterprise Architects (AEA).

Steve joined The Open Group in 1993, spending the majority of his time as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel.   He was also CEO of the AEA from 2010 until 2015.

Steve is a lawyer by training, has an L.L.B. (Hons) in Law with French and retains a current legal practicing certificate.  Having spent most of his life in the UK, Steve has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2007. He enjoys spending time with his family, walking, playing golf, 80s music, and is a lifelong West Ham United fan.

 

 

 

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UNIX®: Allowing Engineers to Engineer

By Darrell May, Senior Principal Software Engineer, Oracle®

Oracle® Solaris innovation is due in part to the UNIX® standard,[1] the test suites,[2] and the certification.[3] By conforming to the standard, using the test suites[4] and driving to certification, Oracle® Solaris software engineers can rely on stable interfaces an assurance that any regressions will be found quickly given more than 50,000 test cases.[5] The old analogy was to build a good building in which you must have a strong foundation applies here. UNIX creates that foundation through stable and reliable interfaces where functional behaviors are predictable for both systems and userland development.

Developers (and users) benefit by not having to relearn command line interface semantics helps focus energy on innovation. UNIX is the “foundation” of Oracle® Solaris but also it helps Oracle® Solaris to be a foundation for other system or userland software engineering. Enterprise developers can be confident that the foundation won’t change out from under them from release to release.

An often-overlooked aspect of standards and the UNIX standard in particular is that they do not restrict the underlying implementation. This is important particularly because it allows innovation “under the hood”. As long as the semantics and behavior of a system call are preserved, you can implement any way you want. Operating systems developers can come up with better algorithms, improved performance, tie into hardware offload (see Oracle’s Software in Silicon innovation[6]) etc., to improve the efficiency of the call. Even better is that application developers get those benefits without having change the application source code to take advantage of it. As a system software developer it is a great feeling to deliver the benefit of improved features, security performance, scalability, stability, etc.,[7] while not having a negative impact on application developers using Oracle® Solaris.

By Darrell May, Senior Principle Software Engineer, OracleDarrell May is a Senior Principle Software Engineer for Oracle® Solaris with his current focus on serviceability, manageability and observability. He has a long history navigating the system stack from firmware to drivers to kernel to userspace identifying, designing and delivering solutions for the most difficult challenges. He is particularly passionate about enabling engineers to do engineering, facilitating customers’ business and driving innovation in the products that he works on.

UNIX® is a registered trademark of The Open Group.  Oracle® and Oracle® Solaris are registered trademarks of Oracle Corporation.

[1] http://www.opengroup.org/standards/unix

[2] http://www.opengroup.org/testing/testsuites/unix.html

[3] http://www.opengroup.org/subjectareas/platform/unix

[4] http://www.opengroup.org/testing/testsuites/vsx4over.htm

[5] http://www.opengroup.org/testing/testsuites/vsc5over.htm

[6] http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/softwareinsilicon/index.html

[7] https://www.oracle.com/solaris/solaris11/index.html

 

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It’s All About the O(pen) – Open Standards and Open Source

By Dave Lounsbury, CTO, The Open Group

Recently, The Open Group received a query about whether a piece of software which was restricted to use with Open Source systems could be used on Apple’s OS X. The person had seen OS X on the Register of Certified UNIX®  Products and asked “so this means it’s open source, right?”

This confusion between open standards and open source is something you see frequently. While Apple’s OS X does conform to the UNIX Standard, it is sold as part of Apple’s product line – it is definitely not open source.

What’s the difference? An Open Standard is a specification for the interface, behavior or quality of something (an operating system in the case of UNIX®). There are various but similar definitions of what openness is, but most agree that open standards are developed through consensus processes that feature:

  • Openness
  • Balance of interest
  • Due process
  • An appeals process

Most also agree that open standards should be available at reasonable and non-discriminatory prices.

Open Source, on the other hand, refers to a software implementation that is made available using one of a variety of licenses and “with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose[1].” While many open source projects are developed through collaboration, some are not. Although typical open source initiatives encourage wide participation[2], the governance of what changes are or are not accepted is up to each individual project, particularly in smaller projects where the decision may be under control of a single individual.

So, what is the relation between these two similar sounding but fundamentally different approaches to openness? One of my mentors in the standards world told me that the best standards are like tires and highways. While there are limits on weight, size, etc., within those limits, people can build whatever kind of vehicle they best suits their needs.

Open standards and open source should have that kind of a complementary relationship. Open standards provide a stable foundation for innovation and increase buyer confidence in knowing what’s in a product, and open source allows people to get started quickly and economically, and to collaboratively create new capabilities. One or more open source implementations can also drive the widespread adoption of a standard, thus strengthening it – look at Apache and HTTP for a good example of this.

To bring this idea of alignment of open standards and open source back to the original query about UNIX and open source: are there examples of such alignment? The answer is yes: Inspur K-UX 3.0 is based on a Linux distribution, but is also certified as conformant to the UNIX standard – the same as Apple’s OS X, AIX, Solaris , HP-UX and others. There is plenty of room on the UNIX® highway – it would be great to have more open source vendors riding along.

  1. Wikipedia, “Open-source software”
  2. Open Source Initiative, “The Open Source Definition (Annotated)”

By Dave Lounsbury, CTO, The Open GroupDavid is Chief Technical Officer for The Open Group. As CTO, he ensures that the people and IT resources at The Open Group are effectively used to implement the organization’s strategy and mission, including The Open Group’s proven processes for collaboration and certification both within the organization and in support of third-party consortia.

David’s previous executive assignments at The Open Group and the Open Software Foundation (OSF) include VP Advanced Research and Innovation which fostered open systems technology through collaborative funding and development, including LDAP, ActiveX Core Technology, DCE 1.2, CDE-Next, and Complex Text Layout.

David holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is holder of three U.S. patents.

Connect with us via Twitter –  The Open Group @theopengroup and Dave @technodad

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