FedEx Freight delivers with Linux and Apache

FedEx Freight, the long-haul trucking business division of Federal Express, recently gave its Web operations a Linux facelift. It replaced 15 front-end Windows Web servers running Microsoft Internet Information Server with Red Hat Linux and Apache Web server.

"We've observed that, out of the box, the Linux servers have [a high level] of security ... with things like built-in firewall capabilities," says John Boreni, managing director of computer services for FedEx Freight. "There are also reliability improvements in the operating system and in Apache," which he expects to see, although he says he has not collected any data for comparing the reliability of new Linux servers, vs. the Microsoft systems they replaced. But so far, Boreni has liked what he's seen.

FedEx Freight uses the servers as a Web front end for its customer service application used by customers to check on shipping order status or to place new orders. The database servers run on Windows and Unix boxes on the back end.

The Linux servers were loaded with a version of the Tomcat Java application server, the same application previously used on the Microsoft Web servers that were replaced. Boreni says that the move to Linux would have been more complex, and possibly cost prohibitive, if he had to have his applications converted from Windows to Linux.

"Today, we have about 5% of our Intel servers on Linux," Boreni says. "I'd expect in six to 12 months to have that number in the 15% to 20% range."

One area of Linux expansion at FedEx Freight includes a server consolidation project Boreni and his team are planing. Boreni plans to consolidate 40 to 50 servers - including file, print, and other applications - FedEx Freight's internal network onto 20 to 25 "virtual" Linux server instances.

While this is becoming a trend among mainframe users, Boreni plans to host the Linux instances on a four-way Intel server with software from a company called VMware, which allows an Intel box to be broken down into logical partitions, or "Lpars," as in the mainframe world, on which separate operating systems can be run.

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