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Linux puts another financial feather in its cap

German services company moves away from Solaris.

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One of Germany's biggest financial services companies has migrated its core Web services infrastructure to Linux - a fresh example of how the operating system is making its way into more important enterprise applications.

Plus Finanzservice, which provides services such as customer loyalty cards to clients including H&M and Ikea, migrated from Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), at a cost of 30 percent less than a Solaris system would have cost, Red Hat said on Thursday. Linux's similarity to Unix, its lower cost and ability to run on Intel hardware makes the Unix market ripe for open-source conquest, according to many industry observers. Sun has been attempting to tackle the problem by partially embracing open source.

The Linux system powers Plus' online service for processing customer enquiries and requests, using a custom-built application. The company migrated to a four-node cluster of dual-processor Dell systems accessing a Storage Area Network, with clustering controlled by an Oracle 9i Real Application Server (RAC) database. The entire production environment is mirrored in an external data centre that can take over from the production system in 10 minutes, said Dirk Kissinger, Red Hat's EMEA partner marketing manager.

"Our Web Services application is at the heart of how we interact with our customers and so its performance is critical to the overall performance of our business," said Gerrit-Leonhard Stein, IT Manager at Plus, in a statement. He said a Microsoft system the company tested simply couldn't deliver the needed performance. Red Hat's system also beat Solaris on performance, Stein said. Red Hat's professional services team installed and fine-tuned the production system, including the Oracle RAC.

Red Hat highlighted that Plus is using a Red Hat Network (RHN) proxy server to allow localised, behind-the-firewall control of updates, patches and errata. "The proxy server, and a more extensive product called the satellite server, are some of the most critical technologies we sell today," said Red Hat European director of marketing Paul Salazar.

Plus made the decision to install an entirely new production system at the beginning of the year, Kissinger said. Because the company was starting from scratch, it would have been necessary to rewrite the bespoke application, migrate to a new version of Oracle and make other fundamental changes, no matter which platform was chosen, Kissinger said.


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