Linux wins another city over Windows
Bergen, Norway, is consolidating older servers on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8
TechWorld.com - Linux has won another battle against proprietary software with a decision yesterday by the city of Bergen, the second-largest city in Norway, to consolidate older Windows and Unix servers on Novell Inc.'s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.
The deal was announced shortly after the German city of Munich finished a yearlong decision-making process that will see 14,000 desktops switched from Windows to Linux, a move that some have called the "poster child" for desktop Linux.
Bergen's plan doesn't involve desktops and thus poses less of a potential threat to Microsoft. However, the shift will affect 50,000 users and is expected to deliver immediate cost savings by drastically reducing the complexity of the city's IT systems, according to Bergen's chief technology officer, Ole Bjoern Tuftedal.
Linux is increasingly popular in enterprises, where many industry observers believe it will ultimately replace Unix. Unlike Unix, which traditionally was used on proprietary processors designed for a particular flavor of the operating system, Linux distributions are largely interchangeable and normally run on commodity hardware from Intel Corp. or Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Linux competes with Windows in the Unix-replacement market and has the potential to compete with Windows on business desktops, particularly for terminals running a fixed set of applications, such as in call centers.
Recent figures from research firm IDC showed that Linux server unit shipments grew 46.4% in the first quarter of this year over the same quarter last year, compared with 26.5% for Windows server shipments.
Novell, along with competitors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co., sees Linux as a way of allowing customers to standardize on a single low-cost, nonproprietary platform, migrating from a hodgepodge of systems to Linux-based clusters or mainframes. "You need one operating system to do that. What we have is an important initiative to help customers to add Linux to their infrastructure," said Richard Seibt, president of Novell's Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, in a recent interview.
The Bergen arrangement will put these Linux arguments to the test. Initially, 20 Oracle database servers running on HP-UX, HP's version of Unix, will be replaced with around 10 SUSE servers on Itanium-based HP Integrity servers. In a second phase, the city plans to consolidate more than 100 application servers used in schools around the city into a centralized set of 20 IBM eServer blades running Linux.
Once the database servers are shifted over -- a move that will affect all the city administration's databases, including those used for heath and welfare services -- Bergen plans to standardize its network, mail and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocolservers on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8. Many are already running various versions of Linux, so standardization should simplify things for the city's IT staff, resulting in a short-term payoff, Tuftedal said.
The city said keeping costs down was an important factor in its choice of Linux over Unix or Windows, something that will resonate with many enterprise customers. "In addition to the IT-based benefits from migration to Linux, we attain a business model that doesn't tie us to a single vendor's solution architecture," said Bergen's CIO, Janicke Runshaug Foss, in a statement.
The rollout is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
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