Turbolinux Signals Transition With PowerCockpit

Turbolinux is launching a system mangement product, PowerCockpit, for configuring and deploying the Linux operating system and applications across multiple servers.

Turbolinux is launching a system mangement product, PowerCockpit, for configuring and deploying the Linux operating system and applications across multiple servers.

The move is part of the Brisbane, Calif., companys plan to transition itself from one of the four major distributors of Linux and largest distributor in Asia to a vendor with software management products running on top of the open source OS.

The transition echoes a move earlier this year by VA Linux Systems to transition itself from a Linux hardware builder and systems integrator to a value-added Linux software vendor selling its open source expertise and tools for intra-enterprise software development projects.

Linux companies have found themselves scrambling during the technology industry slowdown to move front and center value-added products and services on top of the OS, which continues to experience double digit growth on servers, according to IDC.

"We have been planning this transition for the last ten months. We saw it coming . . . " said Ly-Huong Pham, CEO of Turbolinux.

PowerCockpit can capture a Linux servers software image - the combination of the operating system, networking protocols and application set working together - and move it to other servers as needed. An experienced Linux system administrator could thus extend his expertise around the company by configuring many similar servers from his painstaking efforts on one server, she said.

PowerCockpit handles some of the details of server configuration as well as redeploying a successful server installation. For example, a Linux/Apache Web server based on Small Computer System Interface (SCSI) hard drives could be moved to another server using IDE drives, with PowerCockpit automatically adjusting settings for the move, said Peter Beckman, Turbolinux vice president of engineering. PowerCockpit can determine the specifications of a given piece of hardware, such as the size of its hard drive and whether it has the capacity needed for the task.

In another vein, a Web server might be quickly reconfigured as a proxy server, application server, database server or caching server, each based on a previously captured software image of such a server built by an expert, he said.

In settings where Web traffic fluctuates, a system administrator might decide to reconfigure a rack of servers to handle Web traffic and could do so in a few minutes using PowerCockpit, he said.

It typically takes two days for an in-house IT expert to complete the successful build of a Web server, firewall, application server or database server, Pham noted. If the feat needs to be duplicated on 10 or 12 servers, each could take almost the same amount of time when done manually.

Companies have been trying to get around the shortage in IT expertise by buying server appliances, which come pre-configured with certain application already on them. But the firm is then stuck with using the hardware only for that purpose, she said.

PowerCockpit makes it possible for companies to construct their own server appliances and the deconstruct them, using them with a new load of software for another purpose, she said.

PowerCockpit is priced at $50,000-$100,000 for a site license, managing an unlimited number of Linux servers. It can be purchased as a $100-$200 per server system as well, Pham said.