In a sign that the Unix turf war of the 90s is still raging, Queensland's Department of Natural Resource and Mines has migrated its core transaction processing system from IBM to Sun.
With 4000 employees, 45 offices, and a WAN covering the entire state, the department administers titles for land, water, vegetation, and mines. Its core business involves servicing the Queensland land and property market with clients being conveyancers, solicitors, financiers, and purchasers.
The Automated Titling System (ATS) is the department's in-house developed application that integrates an Ingres database with Global 360's proprietary imaging system. ATS was developed with Technology One in 1992 and the database was recently upgraded to version 2.6.
Michael Droder, the department's titles automation manager, said previously it had Sequent servers, which were bought by IBM, running the Dynix operating system.
"The migration was an 18-month project and involved porting ATS to Solaris as there is some variation between the Unix systems," Droder said, adding ATS is now running on a 12-way SunFire 6800 with 48GB of memory and a second system for disaster recovery.
The total project cost was $2 million including replacing the servers and migrating the application.
"We're already saving $200,000 a year through less management and lower hardware maintenance costs," Droder said. "We already had Sun servers so it was an easy transition; under Sequent we had needed specialized skills."
With 100 percent uptime since going live, Droder said the system is "rolling along" at less than 10 percent utilization.
"ATS supports about 700 users across the department and the excess capacity will cater for transaction volumes from external clients and any property boom," Droder said, adding that most of the ATS transactions are initiated with title searches to establish ownership before sales.
At the data level, Droder praised the now open source Ingres database from Computer Associates as having the performance, resilience, and scalability for the required transaction volume.
The department is also using a 1.5TB SAN from EMC where the cost per gigabyte is lower than distributed storage. The SAN includes 13 million images, and one million documents are added to it each year.
This infrastructure project readies the department for the conversion of all messaging to Web services and digital lodgment of documents. A secure XML gateway will also be implemented.
Unix to remain pressed by commoditization
In its most recent report on server market trends, Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS) highlights two trends that will affect the server market until 2010 - the ongoing consolidation of server operating systems, and server microprocessor consolidation.
IBRS advisor Chris Morris said he is surprised that the Department of Natural Resources and Mines hadn't migrated off Sequent earlier, but he also noted Sun has been suffering the same fate.
"There is a clear movement away from Sun [which] used to be able to compete on price," Morris said. "In the RISC-Unix markets, only Power and Sparc will survive the decade as viable new business solutions. However, Sparc will lose ground to Power as Sun positions part of its Solaris business toward x86."
The IBRS report shows that Windows and Linux will continue to increase their market shares, with Windows passing Unix's market share as early as 2006.
"It is highly likely there will only be three server microprocessor architectures - IA-32, Itanium, and Power - that display consistent growth during this period."