Some four years after Red Hat trumpeted a billing system migration from Solaris to its own Enterprise Linux Server, the customer, Canberra-based ISP TransACT has pushed the penguin aside and moved the application to Windows Server 2003.
ActewAGL, the company which manages IT systems for TransACT, has a mix of Oracle on Solaris and SQL Server on Windows so Red Hat Linux was an isolated platform, according to CIO Carsten Larsen.
Larsen told Computerworld TransACT dabbled with Linux for a while and transferred one of its most important systems to Oracle on Linux, but it had an "ugly duckling" on the side and either company didn't use Linux for anything else.
"ActewAGL has one development platform - SQL Server, and we have a lot of Oracle for billing but don't develop with it," Larsen said. "In the scheme of things it's a small change but Microsoft thinks it's a big change."
ActewAGL found it difficult to manage the application without Linux or Oracle programming skills so it transferred to C# for which skills are plentiful within the organization.
Larsen said Red Hat's announcement of the Solaris migration was over-hyped and it "made out as if we were going to transfer all our systems to Red Hat".
"Red Hat is out of this organization and is not coming back," he said. "It was stable but as a large organization with multiple systems, you can't support too many or you will lose productivity. The [Linux] environment was capable of doing the job but we couldn't run it due to lack of resources."
The cost savings have resulted from the redundancy of an Oracle DBA on a salary of about $150,000 per year and because there are so many internal C# programmers it "didn't take much" to port the application to SQL Server.
"The server needed to be replaced anyway [and] we have an enterprise agreement with Microsoft, so it was mainly a free migration," Larsen said.
With the new system in production for three months now, Larsen said it has performed well and is an "agile environment".
On Windows Vista, Larsen has some resentment towards the new operating system.
"I've been on the beta version and I've been barely been able to get it to work," he said. "We may move to Vista three to four years from now as there has to be a strong business case for changing operating systems."
Microsoft Australia's platform strategy manager Sarah Bond said this win is indicative of SQL Server's tight integration with the Windows platform.
"Customers have this database and application platform and they can deliver business value with business intelligence functionality built into the system," Bond said.
With about 30 percent of SQL Server customers developing their applications in-house, Bond said what Microsoft delivers out of the box can be extended without adding people or needing additional training.
On the upgrade path for Windows Server, Bond said there is an ongoing program for customers to test the migration from 2003 Server to make sure when it is available the migration path is as seamless as possible.
Red Hat's general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Max McLaren, said when ActewAGL bought TransACT the parent company didn't have a Linux strategy and "didn't give us a chance" to renew the subscription.
"You can't win them all and this is a very isolated case," McLaren said. "The trend is the opposite."