Web hosting vendor to expand environment to Linux

Increased demand from customers has inspired US Web application hosting vendor Digex Inc. to expand its hosting environments to the Linux operating system.

Monday, the company announced that it will add managed Web application hosting using Red Hat Linux 7.2 to its established hosting services, which currently run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows or Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris.

Martha Gilbertson, vice president of product management at Digex, said the new offering was inspired directly by customer demand and an increasing number of request-for-proposals that have sought Linux hosting environments in the last nine months.

Digex will offer fully managed, end-to-end hosting on standardized Intel platforms under Red Hat Linux, she said, giving enterprise customers a less-costly option for needed services.

Pricing for the Linux hosting, which is available immediately, will begin at US$1,300 under a Managed Express Hosting program.

One of the first customers for the Linux application hosting was Elogex Inc., a collaborative commerce logistics systems vendor in Charlotte, N.C.

Jeff Carter, Elogex's chief technology officer, said the company had been using Digex application hosting under Solaris for two years but moved over to the Linux offering because of lower pricing and better performance per dollar. Elogex has had an extensive background with Linux since it began operations three years ago, Carter said, using Linux internally for training, development and more.

Elogex does Web applications delivery for clients in the food and beverage industries and is preparing to announce new customers in the building products and retail industries. One customer is Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., one of the nation's largest retail grocery store chains. Elogex provides "a mission-critical part of what they do," Carter said. "It's just not an option for us to be down."

Jim Pilgrim, director of product management at Digex, said Linux application hosting will save money for customers because it can run on Intel-based hardware, which is less expensive than the proprietary Sun hardware that Solaris runs on. "Your cost is a fraction of what it was before," Carter said. "It really makes sense for our customers."

Red Hat Linux was chosen for the hosting offering because Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat Inc. can provide reliable support for the operating system around the world, he said. "That was a big deal for us," Carter said. "It was an obvious choice."

Joel Yaffe, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said Digex is giving businesses a useful opportunity. "Customers are looking for a way to cut costs," Yaffe said. "It's great news that Digex is adding [Red Hat Linux] to its roster."

Digex runs dedicated servers for their customers, not shared servers, in about nine data centers around the world.

WorldCom Inc., seeking to diversify its holdings, purchased a controlling interest in Digex 18 months ago.

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