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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Linux Ascendant + Open Source!!

Senthil Pointed to this article by Christopher Koch where he covers a successful Linux migration done on a massive scale. We have always felt that opensource may fnd some takers at the application infrastructure level. Excerpts with edits & comments:
Mickey Lutz of Cendant Travel Distribution services did something that most CIOs,would consider unthinkable: He moved a critical part of his IT infrastructure from the mainframe and Unix to Linux. For Lutz, the objections to Linux, regarding its technical robustness and lack of vendor support, had melted enough to justify the gamble. Many CIOs are experimenting with Linux these days, but less than 10 percent of the Fortune 1000, according to research company Meta Group, have been willing to bet their core infrastructures on it -to transform the Linux penguin mascot from cute to brute.
The technical challenge @ Cendant is significant. You need many carefully formed flocks of Linux-based Intel servers to equal the might of a single mainframe. In addition, the slow uptake of Linux in high-transaction applications has kept support for big, complex Linux environments more scarce and slightly more expensive than traditional heavy-duty platforms such as Unix and mainframes. And the savings from Linux and Intel matter less in a complex environment where applications, databases and their related support and maintenance can account for as much as 80 percent of the overall cost of running a system.But he maintains that the gamble on Linux has been worth it. "Our business strategy is to be as efficient as possible [while] processing transactions," he says. "To do that, we have to bring down the cost of our technology." Lutz claims he has done that. A platform on the mainframe that was projected to cost $100 million now costs about $2.5 million on Linux and Intel servers. The final hurdle for the adoption of Linux at the highest level of the corporate infrastructure is the comfort level of CIOs. The technical robustness of the hardware and software and support availability all crossed an invisible baseline that Lutz (and every IT leader) has in his mind for new technologies: Lutz felt personally comfortable with it.
Four things to consider when deciding whether to move to open source.
1.Estimate costs and benefits of sticking with the current environment for the next one to three years. Factor in the cost of servers, operations, floor space and other expenses, and the benefits of staying with a known platform and support mechanisms.
2.Conduct performance tests to determine throughput on a Linux platform using Intel servers ("Lintel"). Use this data to calculate the number and cost of servers needed to support your system over one to three years.
3.Estimate other costs—including coding, testing, support, operations and training—and benefits of using Linux.
4.Compare the costs and benefits of the current environment versus the Lintel environment, and make your call.
The change to Linux and subsequent projects that use open source, such as Web services, has affected probably 50 percent of his 380-person staff. "Open source is propelling us to adopt Java and a new way of programming," he says. For some of his staff, those changes haven't been for the better, he says. "We had to reassign those who could not - or would not move forward." The staff (both applications developers and systems administrators) who did make the change had to become more aggressive and intuitive in finding solutions to problems on their own. "We have to have a higher degree of technical support internally now," says Lutz. The most telling observation is :"When you're working with [commercial software], there are pretty standard diagnostic methods to use when things don't work. [But] Red Hat isn't going to give us the solution to every problem," he adds, because it doesn't control the core development of Linux. "My teams have to be far better technically and in their problem-solving skills than before." This is where i think that our earlier coverage of Kim Polese view assumes ore signifance -business models of the open source support companies – where the contours of what need to be done to support open source components become quite clear and a not seeing several players in the opensource world thinking along these lines – it would be a major impediment to consider adoption of opensource in enterprises if the support model is not made widely available and the economics and technology upgrade rate demonstrated as beneficial.

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