Linux can replace Unix or Microsoft Windows in an ebusiness infrastructure, but the open source software could prove more expensive for running certain applications, according to researcher Giga Information Group.
Running applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages, are expensive anyway and running them on Linux may not save in costs, particularly when training and support issues are considered, said Stacey Quandt, associate analyst at Giga at the company's GigaWorld IT Forum 2000 conference.
Also thanks to Microsoft's tight integration with streaming media applications, running audio and video over Windows is less expensive than using Linux, added Quandt.
However, users will see savings by putting Linux on commodity hardware, she said.
"Linux is maturing and is most appropriate for low-end applications such as file, web and print serving, as well as technical computing clusters. In the long term, new iterations of the Linux kernel will move Linux to challenge high-end Unix systems," added Quandt.
She gave examples of three US companies that are using the open source operating system at the heart of the operations. Car parts producer Indiana Precision Technology moved its production system to Linux because it was one fifth the cost of the next closest alternative. It had evaluated a number of proprietary Unix systems and Windows NT, and found that Linux met the company's criteria regarding stability, reliability, performance, maintenance and support.
Cost was also a winning factor for web search engine technologist Google which concluded that Linux on Intel was 10 times less expensive than systems based on Sun Microsystems' Solaris. Google's 12 million searches a day are supported by an infrastructure of 3000 servers to which the company is adding a further 40 servers a day.
Google admits that memory management is a limitation and it is waiting for Linux on Intel's IA-64 processor, scheduled for the second half of 2000, to alleviate the problem.
Internet service company Evoke also claimed to have saved a significant amount of money thanks to Linux. The company, which offers voice-based emails, webconferencing and webcasting, said it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on VA Linux Systems compared with the millions it would have to shell out for comparable Sun systems. It also believed that it would take 1000 NT servers to perform the same function as the VA Linux boxes.
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