Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Watch That Linux Distro If You Care About Your Data

Data protection is driven by software. All the tape drives, disk drives, SANs, network capability, and big pieces of iron are useless if there is no software driving the data protection process. Software is what performs backups. It's what performs replication and remote copy. Software is the tool.

The problem comes when you have Linux-based systems. Don't get me wrong - I like Linux. I've had a Linux system running somewhere for ten years. Software vendors appear to like Linux too. Almost every major data protection software company has support for Linux - or so it would seem.

What vendors support is specific, major, distributions. It's no different then their Windows and UNIX support. They can't engineer solutions for all flavors so they pick what they think will be the most common ones or the ones where they can get support from the manufacturer.

That makes it tough for Linux users because not all Linux distros are released by companies or organizations with a lot of market presence or support staff. From the software vendor's perspective, that distro is not worthwhile. Support for major companies' Linux products are certainly available. If you are a Red Hat or Suse/Novell user, you're usually in luck. If Debian, Knoppix, Slackware, or some other distro is your favorite flavor, your chances are much less that you will find decent support for advanced data protection features.

To get an in-your-face example of this, look at the offerings from Symantec (what used to be Veritas). We are talking about one of the most important data protection software companies in the industry. Linux Support is only for SUSE and Red Hat. There is no application specific supprot for any of the common open source databases used with Linux. No MySQL support and no PostGresql support.

And if you think the Open Source community will ride to the rescue, think again. Although the Open Source database folks are putting features like replication in their databases, the tools available from the Linux community are pretty scarce. The reason for this, is that this stuff is very hard to do. It's not for the weak. A bunch of people writing code on weekends isn't going to come up with good data protection software. A lot of specific skills are needed and the people with those skill are working for Microsoft, IBM, or Symantec.

So folks. If you are serious about Linux, you need to stick with SUSE and Red Hat. Otherwise, you simply won't have the tools needed to keep your data safe.

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