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Issue of March 2003 
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Reconsider Linux, British Petroleum,, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch: all have one thing in common. They have implemented Linux for running mission critical applications.

But Indian enterprises still use proprietary Unix flavors or Windows NT/2000, for running their mission critical stuff. There are only a handful of organizations that use Linux in the mission critical space. Asian Paints has implemented certain SAP modules on Linux; IDBI Bank runs its core banking applications on Linux. Indian enterprises have used Linux mainly for file/print, messaging, and Web-based applications.

With significant cost savings and other benefits that Linux brings to an organization, its high time IT managers give Linux a second look.

Why Linux?
In today's crunch economy, when IT spending is under intense scrutiny, IT managers are interested in making the most penny-wise investment. Being an open source OS, Linux is virtually free.

Linux has evolved over the years—you now have commercial distributions of Linux that are tuned to manage specific enterprise-level applications. Also, one does not have to pay for additional licenses.

On the vendor side, industry heavyweights like Intel, HP, Dell, IBM, CA, SAP, and Oracle are backing Linux by offering products and services based on this platform.

Another reason to select Linux is its ability to run on multiple server platforms. An IT manager can scale his enterprise application from a low-end Lintel server (Intel-based server running Linux) to say a mid-range or mainframe-class machine to handle the increased capacity. Also, since the entire source code for Linux is available, the IS team can tweak or modify the OS to manage or perform a specific task better.

What about support?
Support has been one of the key concerns when it comes to adopting Linux for enterprise-class applications. You now have Red Hat and SuSE offering support for Linux implementations in India. IBM, a big supporter of Linux, is offering Linux-based servers in almost all segments—right from low-end Intel-based servers to high-end mainframes.

Should you migrate?
This brings us to the moot question: Should you migrate your existing mission critical applications to Linux? This depends on many factors.

One needs to understand that Linux, like any other technology, isn't for everyone. To deploy Linux it is essential to have proficient technical personnel. Otherwise you might end up spending thousands on a technology consultant, thereby nullifying the cost benefits of this free OS.

Linux has definitely moved from the idealistic realm of geeks to the penny-pinching, number-crunching corporate world. Now it's up to Indian enterprises to identify the perfect fit and adopt Linux.

Sandeep Ajgaonkar, Associate Editor

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