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Linux in Business - Case Studies "Hard Rock Cafe"

Jul 26, 1999, 07:40 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Adelstein)
[ The opinions expressed by authors on Linux Today are their own. They speak only for themselves and not for Linux Today. ]

By Tom Adelstein

from the archives of the Linux Consultants Support and Resource Center


Since its 1971 opening in London, Hard Rock Cafe has become a global phenomenon. Currently, there are over 96 Hard Rock Cafes in 33 countries, combining rock music sensibilities, memorabilia from top musical artists of the last 40 years, classic American food, and a commitment to widespread altruistic causes.

At Hard Rock, music is truly the universal language, and perhaps nothing ultimately defines Hard Rock better than music. Recent expansion efforts undertaken by Hard Rock Cafe reinforce a clear "music connection." Some of these music-related products and programs that Hard Rock has developed or is developing include: the Hard Rock Live television series, which launched on VH1 in March 1997 and has recently begun its second season, Hard Rock Records, Hard Rock Live! state-of- the-art live-music venues, including sites in Orlando and Mexico City, Hard Rock Beer, Hard Rock Hotels, and the recently announced alliance with the National Basketball Association to create the NBA restaurant concept. In addition, opening festivities for each new Hard Rock Cafe in every corner of the globe are headlined by live musical performances.

Is it any surprise that one would find Linux making its way through the hallowed halls? The Hard Rock Cafe attracts enlightened, aware and forward thinking people. Christopher Shepard, about whom "Linux Today" wrote an article entitled, Got an iMac? Get Linux! (Feb 2nd, 14:20:34) got Linux up and running on the Imac before anyone we know. He's one of the team at Hard Rock.

Christopher tells us ," So far, Hard Rock has two Linux machines. The first sits outside the company Cisco PIX) firewall and does name service. It also forwards incoming emails to "firstname_lastname@hardrock.com" to the Lotus Notes server via SMTP. Hardly remarkable except if one considers that this machine is an old pentium 133 pulled off a shelf full of PCs that had been obsoleted, resulting in a zero hardware and software cost for the service it provides."

Hard Rock Cafe began working hard to "Save The Planet" long before the environment became a widely-supported cause. Its pioneering mission to give something back -- both on a global basis and by involvement in smaller community projects -- has not only served as a catalyst to raise funds, but it has also enhanced the very profile of corporate charity work.

"'Save The Planet' and 'Take Time To Be Kind' are not just sayings we hang from our walls, they are guiding principles and calls to action," explains Jim Berk, President and CEO of Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc.

Using Linux is a testimony to Jim Berks guiding principle. By using Linux, Hard Rocks older computers can be recycled instead of simply dumped in a hazardous waste site adding to the heaps of contamination.

As the world changes and tastes shift and twist, Hard Rock has always evolved to meet these changes. Still, Hard Rock Cafe remains consciously attached to its founding objectives: great food, great music, a welcoming atmosphere and, at the end of a Hard Rock visit, great memories.

Christopher will certainly be part of the memories the staff will have. He exudes excitement as he talks about the Company's venture into the world of Linux.

"One Linux machine inside our firewall is a dual pentium II/233 with 512 megs of RAM," Christopher tells us. "It has served us faithfully for nearly two years, running the corporate Intranet (which various departments update simply by clicking into the network neighborhood and dragging files, since Samba is a wonderful thing). This 'intranet' machine also contains a number of web-based applications which allow us to simply fill out html forms to add, modify, and delete items from our point-of-sale systems around the world (or pull various reports).

"Furthermore, it runs several scripts every 15 minutes that generate web pages providing the status of printers around the world (important, since its Samba server runs printer-spools to all of our cafes around the world, thus obsoleting FAX traffic and saving us thousands per year), network status, and other goodies like that. The reason it has so much CPU capacity and RAM is so that it can do all this in addition to the CPU-intensive financial reports it produces on a weekly basis (sales of hard rock records, merchandise sales, and others). Management originally had no idea that we were delivering all these services from a free operating system, and by the time they found out, they didn't care. It never breaks."

Hard Rock Cafe is owned by the Rank Group, Plc, and its worldwide corporate headquarters are located at 6100 Old Park Lane, Orlando, Florida 32835, with offices in Los Angeles and London.

When the Hard Rock Cafe points to Linux, it's saying it knows about a world that works for everyone.


Tom Adelstein, CPA, is the CIO of Bynari, Inc. He's the author of several books and articles on business and technology and has management, consulting and hands-on experience in the Information Technology field.