LINUXWORLD - Linux continues Unix bloodbath

Even the most mission-critical, Unix-based central business systems are being replaced by Linux running on commodity hardware, according to delegates at Linuxworld 2006 conference and expo in Sydney yesterday.

Only last week the company behind Steggles chicken, Bartter Enterprises, went live with its order management, shipping, and inventory applications on an Oracle and Red Hat Linux cluster, and later this year it will add in its supply and demand planning applications.

Bartter had previously used HP's Alpha-based Tru64 Unix systems, and despite initial concern, the company decided to migrate to Linux "based around Oracle", business systems director Janelle Endacott said. "The concerns [about Linux] we had were too great, but [because of] benefits like scalability and cost we investigated it further," she said. "I didn't see Linux as a true enterprise solution. I was concerned about reliability and speed [as] we paid an awful lot of money for Unix and how could Linux compete? Was I going to need to up-skill the IT team to support the environment, and how much would it really cost?"

However, after a phased implementation, Endacott soon discovered the benefits of commodity, standards-based computing. Bartter did a proof of concept in 2004 with HP and Rich Computing, which copied the live system from one SAN to another, clustered four servers, and did functional and performance testing. Failover testing was also done by turning some servers off at random.

"The outcome was very successful; when we powered-off a server the rest continued to run," Endacott said. "The new system was 10 times faster than the old system. We were more than overjoyed. And we found that it [possible] to add another node within a day with no outage."

Endacott said the support and upgrades were a "turning point" for her with Linux, and entering into an agreement with Red Hat was no different to a proprietary agreement for its legacy Unix environment.