Weather.com Exchanges Solaris for Linux

FRAMINGHAM (06/23/2000) - Weather.com is replacing some of its servers from Sun Microsystems Inc. with much cheaper Intel Corp.-based machines from IBM running Red Hat Linux.

The reason for the switch is cost, said Mark Ryan, CIO at The Weather Channel Enterprises Inc. in Atlanta. He's moving static Web content to IBM cORP.

NetFinity 4000 dual-processor rack-mount servers, which he claims will do the same job as the Sun servers for one-third the price.

Linux allows Ryan to add performance in smaller - and cheaper - increments, he said. "We can slot in a new server in less than two hours," Ryan said.

Weather.com gets an average of about 300 million page views per month, but it sees peaks of 25 million to 35 million views per day during the hurricane season. In May, the site ranked 26th in Media Metrix Inc.'s list of most-visited Web sites.

For generating dynamic Web pages, such as its personalized home pages, which include maps and news, Weather.com will stick with Sun servers because they perform the task better than Intel machines, Ryan said.

The IBM boxes will run the open-source Apache Web server. The Sun servers will be powered by IBM's WebSphere server, which is based on Apache.

"What people like about Linux is you can add [servers] as you need them," said Bill Claybrook, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston. Linux isn't yet competing with Sun at the high end, but eventually it will, Claybrook said.

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