Linux in Business – Case Studies “Vignette”

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By Tom Adelstein

from the archives of the Linux Consultants Support and Resource

Of all the business cases received in our archives, the Vignette story ranks very high on the
list. It might even rank at the very top. When Ernst & Young
named Ross Garber as 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the
Year, no one ever deserved it more. I guess that very few people
know the Vignette name. Even so, if you browse the Internet,
Vignette touches you at every turn.

Red Herring Magazine named Vignette as one of its Top 50 Public
Companies in its 1999 Top 100 Companies of the Electronic Economy.
As quoted in Red Herring’s June issue, “Vignette, winner of the
Best Products and Best Overall awards among our top private
companies last year, continues to impress us…”

Vignette Corporation
(Nasdaq: VIGN), the leader in the category of Internet Relationship
Management (IRM) software products and services, provides
enterprise solutions for companies that are building businesses
online. More than 225 global companies, including First Union
National Bank, U S West, National Semiconductor, DaimlerChrysler,
Nokia, Qualcomm, CNET, Bertelsmann and Ziff-Davis’ ZDNet, use
Vignette solutions as part of their online strategy.

The more one knows about the company, the reasons for Vignette’s
success becomes more obvious.

For example, from the Company’s web site, a quote on why they
use best practices:

“A consistent goal for every project we embark upon is
to dedicate the time necessary to insure we are able to share our
knowledge and best practices experience with our customer technical
teams. This helps to guarantee that future StoryServer projects
that are done without our guidance have a sound foundation from
which to begin.”

From the investor’s stand point Charles Schwab’s profile merely
states, “(Vignette) Provides enterprise solutions software and
services for companies that are building businesses online. The
company’s applications enable small- to mid-sized enterprises
develop and manage online customer relationships to increase
Web-based revenues and market share.” So, if you haven’t heard of
Vignette or you just heard the name in passing, get down and do
some research. I think you will find a surprise.

From a technology point of view, Vignette is innovative, leading
edge and stable. Their products work, their solutions work and they
have vision. These attributes exist in the Company as part of its
cultural fiber. What they do on the outside, they do on the inside.
Their solutions arise out of their use of the best technologies for
their stake holders.

Among the Company’s diverse platforms, one will find Linux.

According to John Bell, the Company’s Senior Systems
Administrator, Vignette initially had to solve a problem of
cordoning their production environment from their customer training
areas and chose Linux as a low-cost solution.

In evaluating various mail platform solutions, Linux became the
one of choice due to its flexibility and low cost (in the form of
both free licensing and price of required hardware, since
redundancy was a driving requirement).

John says, “gaining approval for Linux-based solutions was
easier than one might imagine. One of the enabling factors for this
is the fact that the company had a previous positive experience
with Linux. Back in the “start up” days, Linux was utilized to act
as the core router for the company’s internal network. We have
since moved to an Accelar 1200 switch from Bay Networks (switched
100 Mbps full duplex to all nodes in the company, utilizing a
1000Base-SX backbone, is a mighty improvement), but during the time
it was in service the Linux router served us well.”

The Information Technology group uses Linux to provide a
platform for their primary and backup mail server (Sendmail Pro
8.9.3 as MTA). They use it for several mission critical functions
which includes procmail filtering for spam and virii, in addition
to handling bidirectional forwarding and rewriting for the internal
MS Exchange server .

John Bell says, “I am constantly on the lookout for ways to use
Linux. It’s great as ‘network glue’ between our Solaris and NT

Linux is deployed for Internet services as the Secondary DNS
server running bind 8. The Company says that server is soon to
become the primary DNS server.

Other applications deployed on Linux include:

– NIS slaves (serving maps to Solaris machines – works

– HP WebJetAdmin servers (manage all printers from web
served up via Linux).

– Firewall systems for the Training group, and for the
servicing the Executive Visitor Center (EVC).

– CD-ROM servers (Samba 2.0.x and NFS).

He then added, “the production Linux machines have been
integrated into our Legato Networker data zone using the Legato
Linux client. So, they meet the requirement to fit within our
backup scheme as well.”

Vignette has won numerous industry awards including the Red
Herring Magazine’s 1999 Top 50 public companies list; Red Herring
Magazine’s Best Overall Private Company in 1998 and 1998 Best
Product Award for StoryServer; and Crossroads A-list Award. In
April 1999, the company’s StoryServer 4 was included in the
Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology at the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Vignette spearheaded the Information & Content Exchange
(ICE) initiative with more than 80 other member companies including
Microsoft, National Semiconductor and Sun Microsystems. Based on
the Extensible Markup Language (XML), ICE 1.0 is the world’s first
protocol to enable content syndication. Vignette’s product line
includes Vignette StoryServer 4, Vignette Development Center (VDC),
and Vignette Syndication Server (VSS), the world’s first
ICE-compatible product. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Vignette
Corporation also has offices located throughout Europe and in
Australia and can be found on the Web at http://www.vignette.com.

, CPA, is the CIO/CFO 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