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By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-09-27 Print this article Print

Another company that has migrated off Linux to Windows is Mountain High Holdings LLC, the operator of Mountain High Resort, a ski and snowboarding resort in Wrightwood, Calif.

Three years ago, the resort implemented an e-commerce system that used Red Hat Inc. Linux, The Apache Software Foundations Apache Web servers and MySQL ABs MySQL database; the system was programmed in PHP.

"The decision to go with Linux was a cost-based one," Michele Roy, the resorts chief financial officer, told eWEEK. "We had not budgeted the e-commerce system setup in that years business plan."

The potential savings were quickly erased by ongoing support expenses, Roy said. "We spent more during the first three months troubleshooting the Linux system than if we had purchased the Windows solution to begin with," she said. "The Linux system could not handle the layers of information needed for internal control of the resort."

Roy also had concerns about the security and reliability of the system. System failures and escalating costs had the resort reconsidering its Linux decision when, over a weekend in late-summer 2002, in the midst of its season-pass sale—accounting for the sale of about 5,000 passes—the system went down. The e-commerce component stopped working for about a day.

"There was a limit set up within the program that said you can only order x amount of products within one transaction," Roy said. "When one of our guests went over the limit, it crashed the whole store. We then had to manually identify the erroneous credit card charges."

At the end of the 2002-2003 season, Mountain High decided to rebuild the site on Windows. "Our current season-pass sale began on Sept. 1, and the e-commerce site has seen growth of over 100 percent," Roy said. "If we had not gone with the Windows solution, there is no way we could have processed all the passes." Mountain High still uses Linux on a dedicated server for its community forum.

Is Linux keeping Microsoft awake at night? Check out what our readers have to say. Such customers may not outweigh the numbers switching to Linux and sticking with it, but Microsoft executives will take any wins they can. The biggest challenges are those customers moving from Unix to Linux, who "dont want to rewrite their applications, and most of their staff only know Java," said Martin Taylor, Microsofts Linux platform strategist, in Redmond, Wash. "The question I sometimes ask customers is if they want to [maintain and manage] system-level software."

Taylor said customers have applications written in Java on top of Linux as well as applications in .Net on top of Windows, and they want their applications to talk to one another. "Thats where more of the dialogue is—from an interoperability perspective. Its not about plumbing because ... the plumbing [is already] done," Taylor said.

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Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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