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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Linux, Enterprise & Financial Sector

(Via Cworld) Open-source zealots may continue to play a part in instigating the spread of Linux across the European continent, - but private corporations and public-sector users in Europe typically cite pragmatic reasons for taking up the open-source operating system. They point to price and performance benefits. They want freedom to swap out hardware. They find the operating system reliable. They like its flexibility. Perhaps no single industry has tested Linux's enterprise mettle more than the financial services sector. Companies were facing mounting pressure to cut costs at the turn of the millennium. The Internet bubble was about to burst. Prices were fluctuating wildly. Order volume and data traffic were spiking in the wake of the electronic trading boom. Revenue was not. The number of stocks being traded was the same, and the rising cost of processing orders was becoming a big problem. When the market slump hit in 2001, that only exacerbated the trouble. Financial institutions had to think out of the box - fast -and Linux became an obvious alternative to consider. Several of the largest firms started to dump their proprietary Unix systems and shift to cheaper x86 hardware running Linux.

Linux enabled users to use a commodity platform. Trading in very expensive systems for much lower-priced commodity Intel systems was the biggest win. The Linux/Intel server combination would ultimately enable the firm to save "tens of millions of dollars" in IT costs across thousands of servers.Major financial institutions became one of the most powerful lobbies for Linux, pooling their clout to get their software vendors to support the operating system. They collectively urged their many software vendors to port applications to Linux. On the desktop, Linux support vendors continue to struggle for a high-profile success story that might drive adoption. Many projects have gone through the test phase only to encounter challenges with application support and integration when it comes time for the rollout.

"It's been the 'year of the Linux desktop' since 1998. It hasn't happened," says Chris Ingle, a London-based analyst at IDC. "You don't find CIOs saying, 'My biggest priority is changing all the desktops.' " Europe may outpace the U.S. with Linux desktop deployments, but even there, Linux captures only a small piece of the Windows-dominated market. And when it does, it's often thin-client or limited-function deployments, as opposed to the thick-client, knowledge-worker setups that Windows commands.

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