Enterprise decision makers are buying into Linux more than ever, and that commitment is extending beyond the perimeter, where the OS has found a comfortable home.
In an online spending survey of 130 IT managers and decision makers, 30% said that, among Linux-related projects planned for 2004, a data center migration to Linux would receive the greatest monetary commitment. Of that percentage, 52.7% indicated they'd be spending up to $99,000 on the migration, and 13% expect to spend between $100,000 and $499,000.
The data service division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services recently committed to an IBM zServer on Linux to run an Oracle application that previously ran on HP-UX. According to information systems planning specialist Bob Howard, the division plans to consolidate other file, print, database and application servers onto the zServer under z/VM and z/Linux.
"We are in the process of increasing storage for the zServer so that we can utilize the zServer and the z/Linux environment for more," Howard said. "The percentage of [the spending] increase is unknown at this time. We are exploring using the z/Linux environment for anything that makes good business sense.
"Business is driving the change; we are looking for the best bang for our buck."
Howard is a decision maker who was swayed by Linux's stability and cost savings. As of two years ago, there was no Linux in his division's shop.
"At first it was 'Hell no; we won't go.' I was not a Linux fan myself. But, when IBM came in and said they would guarantee z/Linux would work, I started to listen," Howard said. "We just had to cost-justify the move. We laid out a plan for using the zServer to do more than the existing IBM hardware was doing -- and [to] do away with the HP gear; [we] documented the projected savings for ongoing maintenance and support."
More decision makers are falling under Linux's spell. Of those who responded to the SearchEnterpriseLinux.com spending survey, 60% will spend up to 10% more on Linux this year.
Some, however, have very pointed questions that IT managers must answer.
"We can convince them that Linux is superior here and there, but it is always the question of support that creates most problems," said Andy Tsouladze, senior Unix systems administrator with UAL Loyalty Services, a subsidiary of United Airlines. "For technology people, support questions are, 'Who can I ask if there is trouble? How long does it take to get an answer?' For management, the question is, 'Who can we hold responsible?' It is a matter of education. The paradigm needs to be shifted from the obligation to support to the actual support, because it is the actual support that counts."
Paul Pedron, a senior network system specialist with a central California municipality, said that convincing decision makers is a tall order. Currently, Pedron's staff is developing a portal on SuSE Linux with a Novell Virtual Office/iChain implementation.
"Management wanted a supported OS," Pedron said. "Now, with Novell's acquisition [of] SuSE, it is fully supported with a currently established vendor we have been dealing with for years."
Some decision makers, however, have been burned by too many virus and worm outbreaks, as well as patch management woes, and they are desperate for the alternative that Linux and open source offers.
"The last round of patches and the virus of the day was the straw that broke the camel's back," said Chris Ridley of OnCall Solutions, in Litchfield, N.D. "The question was 'Why can't we work?' The answer was, 'We need more people and more money to cover our butts with what we have.'
"We had proposals on the table for managed services, outsourcing, patch management, managed security solutions, etc. There was big money involved in this. The next question was 'Can we do something different?' You bet!"
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