Linux FlyBuys into financial transactions

Open source databases house most critical data

Linux may be an operating system synonymous with a flightless bird, but Loyalty Pacific, the company behind popular retail loyalty and rewards program FlyBuys, has announced it will jet its infrastructure to open source software.

A joint venture between Coles Group and National Australia Bank, Loyalty Pacific began in 1994 to manage customer loyalty initiatives under the FlyBuys and MYERone brands. Today, the company claims more than 2.8 million Australian "households" are actively using FlyBuys cards each month.

Loyalty Pacific is using Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 across both FlyBuys and MYERone brands, with the platform the basis of its database servers, which house membership data for millions of customers, according to the company. RHEL is also serving the dedicated member Web site.

Loyalty Pacific's IT manager, Simran Gambhir, said one of the biggest technology challenges is finding an architecture that can grow with the business.

"What the business needs today - and what will continue to be critical for future growth - is a secure, reliable and efficient operating system that offers a low TCO, ease of administration, and minimal maintenance," Gambhir said.

Loyalty Pacific manages the business operations behind FlyBuys and MYERone, including managing the call centre, brand marketing, commercial relationships, legal affairs, financials, and the IT infrastructure.

Gambhir said Linux is one of the most reliable operating systems and provides an impressive value for money proposition, so it was an easy decision for the company to install Fedora on a number of desktops and run RHEL 4 on 25 of its Web and applications servers.

According to the company, Red Hat's consulting and support capabilities, and timely release cycle for updates and security patches, differentiated it from other Linux distributions.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux comes with a good core set of applications that are very useful, and have enabled us to architect a load-balanced solution that provides us with 100 percent uptime," Gambhir said.

"In comparison to old Windows servers, we've also noted significantly [lower] set-up times for new servers - by approximately 80 percent - and lower maintenance times on servers - by about 70 percent - which is of great value to our business."

The business will focus on a complete migration to open source, bringing any servers still on Windows across to Linux and switching databases to either MySQL or PostgreSQL.

"The open source platform will enable Loyalty Pacific to meet current and future business needs, which makes it a critical part the company's future - from the server right through to the desktop," Gambhir said.

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