Ksplice debuts zero downtime service for Linux
Though potentially a big convenience, IT managers still need to consider three things
Computerworld - Ksplice Inc. today officially launched its no-reboot patching service for Linux servers.
The Cambridge, Mass., start-up has about 35 customers and several thousand servers using its paid Uptrack service, in which security and maintenance patches are automatically applied to Linux servers with minimal delay and no downtime, according to Chief Operating Officer Waseem Daher.
"From a customer point of view, it's seamless," he said.
Despite Linux's reputation for stability and security, most distributions of the open-source operating system still need to be repatched about once a month, the same as the rival Windows Server. RHEL, for instance, was patched 11 times in 2009, Daher said.
"Linux has a great reputation, but no matter how good, there will still be bugs that continually need to be corrected," he said.
Being able to silently update the source code of Linux servers without rebooting increases security (because patches can be applied immediately, rather than waiting for the weekend or some other low-usage time) and cuts costs (because there's no downtime), Daher said.
Overcoming some early technical limitations, Ksplice can now silently apply any kind of Linux patch, usually within a matter of hours, Daher said.
The cost is $3.95 per month per server running RHEL, CentOS, Debian or Ubuntu LTS, going to $2.95 per month after the first 20 servers. Ksplice also supports servers running virtualization technology such as Parallels Virtuozzo Containers or OpenVZ, and a variety of guest virtual machines, including Xen and VMware, Daher said. There is also a free version for Ubuntu desktop users.
There are three things that prospective customers need to keep in mind, though. First, Uptrack's updates aren't certified for compliance with various standards such as PCI, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley and others. Daher said Uptrack's updates should be considered the same as updates from the Linux distributor, but lawyers and other compliance-minded folks may disagree.
Second, Uptrack is not formally supported by Linux vendors like Red Hat or application vendors such as Oracle. That could lead to trouble if an application or server malfunctions and the vendors blame Uptrack. Daher points out that virtualization technology has become popular despite the lack of formal support by many vendors.
Finally, apart from winning a pair of $100,000 grants (one from an MIT entrepreneurs' contest, and another from a federal Small Business Innovation Research competition), Ksplice is otherwise self-funded. According to Daher, the company is not looking for venture capital.
For now, Ksplice is focusing on the Linux server market, of which there are 15 million worldwide today. But the company said its techniques can eventually be applied to devices such as Windows servers or television set-top boxes.
Eric Lai covers Windows and Linux, desktop applications, databases and business intelligence for Computerworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericylai or subscribe to Eric's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Linux and Unix in Computerworld's Linux and Unix Topic Center.
- Maintain Less. Create More. Spend less on maintenance and spend more time creating with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Read on to learn how Red Hat can help...
- Flying High on the Use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Flybe was one of the 21 companies that were interviewed for quantitative results on their operations as part of an IDC ROI analysis....
- Mission Critical: Managing Mobile Applications & Content Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have become embedded in enterprise processes, thanks to the consumerization of IT and a new generation of...
- Securing Mobility, From Device to Network At one time, the process of managing and securing mobile devices and applications was fairly straightforward. Most organizations worried about one application (email)...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily...
- On Demand: Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed, and it continues to escalate. IT must answer to users who demand access to their... All Linux and Unix White Papers | Webcasts