Why Chicago Chose Linux: Page 2

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Migration Requires Homework

Though it’s moving to Red Hat, Chicago hasn’t abandoned Sun. “I still have a few systems that aren’t ready for Red Hat,” Niersbach says. “One of them is Oracle Financials, which is made up of probably six or seven Solaris servers.” Sun also powers Chicago’s customer service request (CSR) system, which routes work orders to numerous city agencies.

A decision to migrate to a new platform requires plenty of homework, she says, noting that many apps have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis: “Will they support Red Hat?" Also, managers must weigh factors like what file system they’ll be using – for example, that of Veritas or Oracle.

A migration decision is like playing three-dimensional chess, in which a plethora of interlocking variables – vendors, hardware, software – must be considered.

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“Because every time you make a change to the environment you have to think how easy or how complicated you’re going to make it.”

One big question: is a given product going to be supported for a lengthy period? “Oracle threw us another surprise recently when they said that they’re only going to support their 9i release 2 for so long. If you don’t upgrade by a certain date, then they’re going to penalize you for that,” she says. “So those kind of issues make it difficult for everyday users like us.”

Amid all the factors, an especially vital one is certification, Niersbach says. Is the application certified at the level you need it to be on the hardware you’re using?

Oracle Support?

Looking ahead, Niersbach expects to do more with virtualization. “We’d like to reduce the number of servers. Because a lot of companies, they may have 3-400 servers, but the CPU utilization is usually very low. The way to reduce that and maximize that uses virtualization. So we’re looking in to that.”

At this point Chicago is contracting with Red Hat for its Linux support. But Oracle recently announced it was offering low cost Linux support. Would Niersbach consider that?

“I don’t know yet,” she says. “I think I’d have to be a little open-minded about it, find out more information. I’d have to find out the pricing.” But, she notes with a laugh, “I pay Oracle enough money a year.”

In the mean time, she has her hands full. “There’s a lot more proof of concepts that we have to do. We’ve grown significantly and I see us migrating to still more Red Hat. There are so many projects – it’s about trying to make time for them all.”

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