A Sunny Forecast for Open-Source
Weather.com's move to an all-open-source Web site infrastructure has enabled the company to lower costs while meeting increased capacity demands.
Computerworld - Four years ago, Weather.com, the online counterpart of The Weather Channel Interactive Inc.'s 24-hour TV channel, relied entirely on proprietary commercial software to serve up millions of Web pages of maps, forecasts and hour-by-hour weather data every day.
Today, the Atlanta-based Web site serves more than 50 million pages on stormy days, but it runs almost entirely on open-source software and commodity hardware. And since the move to the new architecture, it has slashed IT costs by one-third and increased Web site processing capacity by 30%.
"Where it makes sense, we will always look at open-source alternatives," says CIO Dan Agronow. The reason is simple, he says: Despite the self-serving air of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that commercial vendors create around open-source software, lots of open-source products work very well and can be deployed and run for about half the cost of commercial products.
Agronow recalls one time when an IBM sales representative warned him that he'd likely lose his job for dumping IBM's WebSphere application server and formal support program for an open-source alternative.
"We've heard a lot of the FUD about how you can't replace Netscape with Apache, or WebSphere with Tomcat [application server software], but when we've tried it, we haven't seen the gotchas that the vendors all tell us about," says Agronow, who worked at IBM as a technical project manager for 14 years before joining Weather.com.
"My experience is we have actually received better support of open-source software than we have with commercial software," he adds.
The Linux Switch
But that's not to say there haven't been technical challenges. One of those surfaced in 2001 when Weather.com was still running WebSphere but decided for financial reasons to change operating systems, migrating from a Sun environment of Solaris running on Sun 420R servers to Linux running on IBM xServer 330 servers.
"We had problems like installation scripts not working or the GUI not connecting to do the proper administration. There were various things that were subtle differences between the platforms that hadn't been totally worked out on Linux," recalls Jon Badenell, Weather.com's chief architect. "Nothing was a showstopper, but it was not a turnkey installation either."
Working with IBM, Weather.com's 23-member team of systems administrators, developers and architects resolved all of the inconsistencies. In the process, they boosted both their confidence and skills as open-source experts. And Weather.com saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by moving off the Sun servers, Badenell says. "Literally, in some cases it was orders of magnitude cheaper to go to the Linux boxes," he says. "We replaced machines that
Oracle Software Licensing: The Value of Resellers
NEW white paper explores real-world insights and:
* The Rise of Audits
* Compliance Spend
* SAM and Compliance
* Working Directly with a...
- ACM Leadership Guide Knowledge worker effectiveness has emerged as a top priority to both optimize the customer experience and help employees work more efficiently. See how...
- Global Growing Pains: Tapping into B2B Integration Services to Overcome Global Expansion Challenges A recent survey by IDG Research explored both the challenges and pain points companies face when growing globally, as well as the capabilities...
- PCI 3.0 Compliance In this white paper, learn how PCI-DSS 3.0 effects how you deploy and maintain PCI compliant networks using CradlePoint devices.
- E-Signature RFP Checklist Webcast If your organization is looking to adopt e-signatures, you may be overwhelmed by the number of providers that offer seemingly similar solutions. How...
- Expert Panel: Enterprise Mobility and Data Loss Prevention When it comes to enterprise mobility, it's not just about devices, it's about the way people work. Hear this expert panel discuss the... All Management White Papers | Webcasts