The key challenge within this administrative infrastructure at INSERM is to ensure continuing high levels of availability, performance, cost-efficiency and ease of management. When Red Hat—INSERM’s chosen provider for the majority of servers in the Linux estate—changed its pricing policy, the organization decided to standardize on a different distribution that would offer the same technical characteristics but at more favorable pricing.
Guillaume Stevens, Systems Engineering Manager at INSERM, said, “We found that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server offered not only lower pricing but also the same or better performance and stability than Red Hat Enterprise Linux. As both operating systems use RPM for package management, migrating to SUSE was easy.”
INSERM has migrated practically every remaining system from IBM AIX to Linux—with the majority now running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server—but retains Windows for around 20% of its infrastructure, typically to run applications for which the vendor does not support Linux. Almost all of the organization’s key administrative systems—accounts, procurement, billing and HR, as well as messaging and document management—now run on Linux.
The Linux landscape at INSERM is largely virtualized, with 60% being VMware virtual servers and 40% dedicated physical servers. Where systems require especially high levels of availability, the organization uses the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension for clustering.
“We found that the packaging and avail ability of SUSE’s server clustering technology in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 were technically superior to those of Red Hat (RHEL5)”, said Guillaume Stevens. “This is one of the reasons that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is now our reference architecture for Linux systems.”
To simplify the management of its Linux estate—in particular, for handling patches and updates—INSERM recently deployed SUSE Manager and is continuing to roll out the solution across all of its Linux servers.
“In general terms, cost is not the only reason for standardizing on Linux—it is also about stability and security,” said Guillaume Stevens. “SUSE Linux Enterprise Server provides a stable platform for important administrative systems, backed by a highly professional support organization.”
Although still early in its implementation, INSERM is already saving time and effort by using SUSE Manager to control software updates and patches. For each major application, the organization typically has separate test/development, preproduction and production environments. SUSE Manager makes it easy to apply changes across an entire environment in one go, reducing delays and saving time for application administrators.
“SUSE Manager gives us better visibility and control over updates and patches—above all, for critical security patches,” said Julio Martins. “The solution gives us a clear view of system status and helps us to be more responsive to new critical patching requirements. This means that we can take a much more organized and structured approach, and deliver a better service to the application owners.”