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Big Business Talks Up Linux

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Several I.T. executives at the LinuxWorld Summit reinforced the idea that Linux Latest News about Linux now has the technical brawn and industry support to accommodate the most demanding business applications in environments such as finance, airline reservations and stock trading.

Speaking at the trade show, top technologists from Citigroup, Cendant Travel Distribution Services, E*Trade Financial, and other companies shared their experiences with Linux in a corporate environment.

While the next full-scale LinuxWorld won't take place until August in San Francisco, the smaller, regional LinuxWorld Summit offered East Coast I.T. professionals a chance to exchange best practices and learn about the latest open-source technology.

The show drew more than a dozen exhibitors, including IBM, Novell, Nokia, and Sybase, and more than 300 I.T. executives, according to show organizers.

The promises of a successful move to Linux -- greater speed and lower costs -- are what every technology-dependent business is after.

"We were a poster child for Sun," said Joshua Levine, CTO and operations officer at E*Trade Financial in New York. During the Internet boom, he said, E*Trade went on a rampant server consolidation project, moving to some of the largest Sun platforms.

But then the downturn came, and the firm needed to improve its margins. "When you throw everything up on a white board, you notice the only technology pricing that's been in a deflationary spiral is around the Intel architecture," he said.

This led the firm to migrate its Unix applications to Linux to take advantage of lower-cost Intel hardware. A Unix-to-Linux port was viewed as a simpler jump than Unix-to-Windows. E*Trade built server platforms on Linux and Intel for about $38,000 each that improved the performance of similar Sun systems, which cost the firm about $250,000 per server.

Citigroup looked at Linux as a way to get more use out of its mainframe platform by running many Linux virtual servers on one IBM box. But before adopting Linux, the company spent months working out legal issues related to a move to open source.

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