BMW cools off Unix on race to Intel

Linux and Windows share in the spoils

Motor giant BMW will migrate about a third of its fleet of proprietary Unix servers to commodity Intel machines with Linux and Windows to take on the workloads.

Eckard Schiffler from BMW's group data centre in Asia said the global company has some 80,000 desktops and 6000 servers supporting about 4500 applications.

"BMW IT is highly standardized in both infrastructure and processes," he said.

With three main data centres in Europe, the US and Asia, BMW supports over 100,000 employees and the manufacture of nearly 1.4 million vehicles per year.

Speaking at an Intel event in Sydney, Schiffler, who is from Munich but works out of the Malaysia office, said in addition to Unix and Intel servers, BMW has three mainframes for "legacy" applications, and has one petabyte of online storage and three petabytes of offline storage.

"We have many standard and in-house applications for special needs and about 3000 people work in BMW IT," he said.

Applications developed on Unix also need to be migrated so Schiffer could not give a timeline for when the migration is likely to be completed.

Schiffler said BMW's relationship with Intel extends from a sponsorship deal for its Formula One racing car to a technology agreement to ensure it can easily adopt its latest technology.

He believes migrating from Unix systems to Intel will allow the automaker to perform engineering tasks faster than its competitors.

"It's definitely not the death of Unix as we will still operate Linux," Schiffler said, adding both Red Hat and Novell's SUSE Linux are used at BMW.

BMW has a rental model in place for much of its computer hardware, which Schiffler says helps the company be more agile in upgrading to more modern technology.

On the client side, BMW began deploying PCs with Intel's vPro technology in April to ease the burden of management and gain more control over the distributed infrastructure.

In addition to the enterprise support, BMW's IT team also has the challenge of integrating IT into its cars, which is becoming increasingly complex.

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