Linuxs Next Frontier: Database-Intensive Apps

According to an analyst at the Linux on Wall Street conference in New York, once database applications are ported to Linux, the operating system will become the OS of choice for financial institutions.

NEW YORK—Database-intensive applications are the next frontier for Linux, but those applications need to be ported to the open-source operating system, Deborah Williams, the group vice president of financial insights at research firm IDC, told attendees at the Linux on Wall Street conference here on Wednesday.

When that happens, Linux will become the operating system of choice for many users. But this requires the cooperation of the ISV community, who are still being pushed along this path, she said.

Linux will also make a difference to financial institutions by helping them increase revenues, enter new markets, improve service levels, save dollars and, most importantly for Wall Street, become more nimble, she said.

Strong adoption growth is also in the cards for this year and next, she said, with Linux having clearly moved from its initial infrastructure and high volume back-office uses to more analytical uses, including risk management, portfolio management and profitability analysis.

"On Wall Street, time is money and for 2005 the buzz word is going to be latency. If you can speed things up and address that latency, you can make more money," Williams said.

Citing examples of how widely Linux was adopted in the financial sector, she pointed to the NYSE TradeWorks system, the Exchanges newest service for member firms, which is in its first phase. Ultimately, TradeWorks will offer full order-management capability.

Williams also noted that investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein runs its portfolio risk management on Linux, using 80 Intel-based xSeries 4000R servers deployed in Linux clusters.

Looking ahead, Williams said Linux had clearly moved beyond the "hype" and that she expected adoption to expand during 2005 and 2006. "There will be multiple drivers for this, including lower cost (a 25 percent to 30 percent savings); the fact that it is now easy to justify the short-term ROI; its ability to run on multiple hardware platforms; and Linuxs proven on-demand availability.

"The next and final frontier will be moving custom database-intensive applications like Sybase to Linux," Williams said.

Leonard Santalucia, a senior consulting sales specialist on IBMs eServer Linux Impact Team, agreed that the open-source Linux operating system is growing at a rapid pace and is increasingly being adopted by the financial community on Wall Street.

IBM is doing its part to drive the porting of applications to the Linux platform: Its new Chiphopper program encourages ISVs to port their software applications that run primarily on x86 hardware to all its hardware platforms.

Chiphopper, which refers to chips hopping from x86 to IBMs zSeries and Power architectures, will automate the process of porting across different hardware and chip architectures for ISVs. "Linux is not about free, its about freedom," Santalucia said.

Scott Handy, IBMs vice president for Linux, in Somers, N.Y., told eWEEK recently that IBM already has some 6,000 applications that run on Linux x86—a number it plans to double by the end of 2007—as well as 1,000 on Linux on Power. It also expects more of those 6,000 applications to come across to Power and zSeries.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about IBM promoting Linux to ISVs.

In another session dealing with virtualization technology, Pat Aughavin, the vice president of business development for DataSynapse Inc., said virtualization provides a business opportunity, including improving response time by three times or more and significantly improving throughput.

Application silos create operational inefficiency and its GridServer product provides a virtual operating environment, which improves agility and responsiveness and helps enhance service levels.

"So, whats fueling GridServer adoption? It lets our customers achieve a virtual, scalable application architecture, enables commodity, shared computing and accelerates the move towards a service-oriented architecture," Aughavin said. They can also redeploy their scarce IT resources on other value-add projects and invest in competitive differentiation rather than maintenance and "plumbing," she said.

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