Sherwin-Williams Picks an All-Blue Network

In a major coup for Turbolinux and IBM, Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores will install an in-store network that will consist of 9,700 IBM NetVista PCs running Turbolinux.

In a major coup for both Turbolinux and IBM, Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores will announce on Thursday that it is installing an in-store network that will consist of 9,700 IBM NetVista PCs running Turbolinux.

The multimillion-dollar deal, which Ralph Martino, vice president of strategy for IBM Global Services in Armonk, N.Y, said is the largest deployment of Linux ever in the U.S. retail industry, will see Sherwin-Williams roll the network out across its 2,500 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Each store will have two to three workstations, with another serving as an in-store server, thereby improving customer service by giving any workstation in the store access to servers and their respective applications, Martino told eWEEK.

"Sherwin-Williams asked IBM Global Services to migrate its retail stores legacy operating systems from SCO Unix to Linux. They wanted us to implement a new point-of-sale environment in the stores that consisted of both IBM and other OEM hardware. They wanted a more open, non-proprietary end-to-end solution from us," he said.

All Sherwin-Williams legacy point-of-sale and inventory applications will be ported to Linux, while peripherals like printers, scanners, cash drawers and switches will be Linux compatible and bought from some 12 hardware vendors.

While IBM is not working with Sherwin-Williams to migrate or port its back-end applications, this new front-end store operation is tied to its legacy systems, Martino said.

Five installations have already been completed at stores in Cleveland, and the remaining stores will be done before the end of the second quarter of 2003. IBM Global Services will provide maintenance and technical support on an ongoing basis, he said.

Bill Thompson, director of information technology for Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores Group, said the company needed flexible technical solutions to maintain leadership in its competitive environment.

"We need a customer-facing platform that can be easily integrated with our future and existing systems. The solution weve developed with IBM will help us do that," he said.

This latest Linux win follows that of advertising agency BBDO Interactive, which in late February announced that it will be using Linux to develop and host Web sites and applications for clients who require availability of 99.99 percent and higher for their business-critical applications.