Linux Is Already Big Business

Opinion: Fast, cheap and reliable, Linux is here in the enterprise; where are you?

NEW YORK—What part of "Linux is enterprise-ready" dont you understand?

I keep hearing CIOs and the like yap about how Linux isnt really ready for the enterprise. Hows it not mature enough. How its not really safe. Some of it sounds like it comes right out of the Microsoft "Get the Fud … ah, Facts" playbook.

What nonsense!

On Wednesday at Linux World NYC, held in the Marriott Marquis, a swanky hotel right off Time Square, the halls are full of top businesspeople that run their enterprises on Linux.

Look closely at what Ive just written about Linux users: businesspeople. Not programmers, not open-source fans, businesspeople.

The question isnt: "When will Linux be ready for the enterprise?" The real question is, when will you be ready to cut your IT costs while upping your reliability?

At Wednesdays LinuxWorld keynote, Robert Wiseman, chief technology officer for Cendant Travel Distribution Service—the company behind Cheap Tickets, Orbitz and—said, "We found that using the low-cost x86 hardware platform made our system run three times faster and was 90 percent cheaper than the mainframe using Unix had been."

Let me repeat that: three times faster, 90 percent cheaper. This is not some mom-and-pop shop running an Apache Web server for apple pies in the back room. This is the freaking company behind Orbitz, the best, for my travel dollar, of all the online travel companies.

Wiseman also mentioned that thanks to the inexpensive redundancy of Linux on x86, theyve been able to achieve 99.999 percent reliability—or downtime of less than six seconds in a year.

What do you think? Is that stable enough for you?

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about Nokias choice of Linux for an Internet Tablet PC.

Aaron Graves, a senior vice president at Citigroup Technologies Inc.s data center for technical service, reported that by running Linux instances on IBM zSeries mainframes, "We were able to configure multiple Linux instances across multiple mainframes and multiple databases, giving us a back-end Linux environment processing credit card transactions at a rate of between 90 and 120 transactions per second per Linux instance."

Does anyone still think that Linux isnt fast enough for transaction processing?

Josh Levine, CTO at E-Trade Financial, went from being a "poster child for Sun" to sounding like a Linux cheerleader when he talked about what Linux had done for E-Trade.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about enterprise offerings at LinuxWorld.

When asked about the "risk" of using open source and Linux, Levine replied, "We manage $100 billion dollars in assets, and were regulated by pretty much everyone on earth, what do you think?"

"If we foul up," Levine continued, "Ill be on CNBC that night explaining my mistake."

Yes, E-Trade—and Citibank, Cendant and over two dozen other Fortune 500 businesses at this show—trust Linux. Isnt it time that you trusted Linux with your business? Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.