Linux Helps Tree Farm Keep Hardware Spending, Salary Levels Manageable

Four years ago, Brent Biernat couldn't have made the move to Linux. Without support from large vendors, it was simply too risky for COCC, an Avon, Conn.-based financial services company that helps small banks with issues like check clearing, processing transactions performed at ATM machines and compliance. And Biernat recognized that he would have to pay new talent to manage the open source platform. Yet when Linux became all the rage, Biernat, the assistant vice president of network services at the $50-million company, saw the potential.

"We used to run 20 to 25 instances of Oracle on one AIX server, and we could only upgrade one instance per server at a time," Biernat says. "By the time we tested an Oracle Financials release and upgraded all the instances, we would be several releases behind." Installing additional AIX servers to solve that problem was expensive. Instead, Biernat invested $54,000 in Linux.

He implemented Oracle Financials on dual-processor Dell servers with Novell's SUSE. Then he found a way to hire the talent he needed at a price he could afford: He found fresh college graduates who needed experience. The eight guys known today as COCC's "farm team" were raised on Linux. They came of age as Windows 98 was crashing.

Now, thanks to Linux, COCC's estimated annual savings on hardware spending is about $50,000, and Biernat doesn't have to pay the farm team the salaries that high-end Unix folks demand, at least not yet. Plus, there's nothing like having people half your age around to remind you that work can be fun. Problem solved.

Ellen O'Brien, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a senior editor at Storage magazine. Write to her at eobrien@techtarget.com.

This was first published in October 2005

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