Govt agencies fatten Linux, Unix server environments

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Analysis: How large agencies are switching hardware alliances.

The Federal Government has revealed a 6.4 percent increase in the use of *nix servers among agencies that spend over $2 million a year on IT.

The increase occurred exclusively in larger agencies between 2008-9 and 2009-10, according to an iTnews' analysis of figures [xls] contained in a new benchmarking study [pdf].

The study involved a mix of undisclosed large and medium-sized agencies.

By the end of 2009-10, surveyed agencies were using a total of 3039 physical machines running *nix software, including Unix, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD "and related platforms".

Large agencies deployed 996 new *nix servers between 2008-9 and 2009-10, while medium-sized agencies retired at least 45 *nix units over the same period.

Breaking down *nix use

The study of Government ICT expenditure, released this week, provides some insight into 13,199 physical servers used by large agencies and 2162 at medium-sized agencies.

In larger agency environments, *nix server usage increased across all surveyed categories of use - development, test, production and dedicated disaster recovery.

Most of the 996 physical *nix boxes added by big agencies in 2009-10 went straight into production environments.

Nix boxes in production environments went from 1124 servers in 2008-9 to 2021 in 2009-10.

The increase in *nix boxes deployed for test or development purposes was more modest - an increase of around 40 units each.

Only for dedicated disaster recovery was growth in *nix servers fairly flat year-on year, with an increase of seven physical units between 2008-9 and 2009-10.

What about Wintel?

The majority of physical midrange servers were still Wintel machines, which used Intel processors and Microsoft Windows software, and accounted for 80 percent of all boxes in use.

But the physical number of Wintel machines in use was declining.

Larger agencies shed a total of 1355 Wintel boxes across all usage categories between 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Meanwhile, medium-sized agencies increased their use of physical Wintel machines over the same period, deploying 98 more machines year-on-year (though it is unclear for what purpose).

Development and production environments within large agencies appeared to shed the most Wintel boxes, although the use of Wintel boxes in test environments also fell.

The only area where large agencies deployed more physical Wintel boxes was for dedicated disaster recovery. The number of servers for that purpose grew from 434 in 2008-9 to 505 in 2009-10.

Read on to page two for reasons for the Wintel decline and hard Terabyte figures on the Government's booming storage demands.

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