Linux can replace Unix or Microsoft Windows in an ebusiness
infrastructure, but the open source software could prove more
expensive for running certain applications, according to researcher
Giga Information Group.
Running applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP)
packages, are expensive anyway and running them on Linux may not
save in costs, particularly when training and support issues are
considered, said Stacey Quandt, associate analyst at Giga at the
company's GigaWorld IT Forum 2000 conference.
Also thanks to Microsoft's tight integration with streaming
media applications, running audio and video over Windows is less
expensive than using Linux, added Quandt.
However, users will see savings by putting Linux on commodity
hardware, she said.
"Linux is maturing and is most appropriate for low-end
applications such as file, web and print serving, as well as
technical computing clusters. In the long term, new iterations of
the Linux kernel will move Linux to challenge high-end Unix
systems," added Quandt.
She gave examples of three US companies that are using the open
source operating system at the heart of the operations. Car parts
producer Indiana Precision Technology moved its production system
to Linux because it was one fifth the cost of the next closest
alternative. It had evaluated a number of proprietary Unix systems
and Windows NT, and found that Linux met the company's criteria
regarding stability, reliability, performance, maintenance and
Cost was also a winning factor for web search engine
technologist Google which concluded that Linux on Intel was 10
times less expensive than systems based on Sun Microsystems'
Solaris. Google's 12 million searches a day are supported by an
infrastructure of 3000 servers to which the company is adding a
further 40 servers a day.
Google admits that memory management is a limitation and it is
waiting for Linux on Intel's IA-64 processor, scheduled for the
second half of 2000, to alleviate the problem.
Internet service company Evoke also claimed to have saved a
significant amount of money thanks to Linux. The company, which
offers voice-based emails, webconferencing and webcasting, said it
spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on VA Linux Systems compared
with the millions it would have to shell out for comparable Sun
systems. It also believed that it would take 1000 NT servers to
perform the same function as the VA Linux boxes.
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