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From Old School to New School


 

"I was from the old school," remarks Ed Clary, CIO with the Atlanta-based Havertys Furniture Companies, Inc. "I thought that if software was free, it was meant for those who couldn't afford the real version."

 

This isn't an unusual perspective. Many companies-albeit fewer than even a couple years ago-question the whole notion of free, open-source applications. After all, how robust, secure and full-featured can software not supported by large, branded application-development companies be?

 

Increasingly, the answer to that question is becoming a non-issue, with open-source software-especially that built for Linux*-finding its place in more and more company IT environments. This is especially true now that organizations are beginning to better understand the open-source community and the power it wields, with developers from across the globe coming together to craft applications that can be robust, secure and full- featured. As Clary notes, "I heard someone talk about the database product he had developed in the open-source space, and he said he had more developers working on it than Oracle had working on theirs."

 

Because of this shift in mood, Linux and the applications that run on it are becoming common and indeed expected parts of the everyday IT infrastructure. The only question remaining is which hardware platform to run them on. In the iSeries* and eserver i5 world, the answer is becoming self-evident, especially now that Linux can be run in iSeries and eserver i5 partitions. Companies wishing to deploy Linux no longer need to purchase commodity PC servers to do so; they can run it on their existing iSeries and eServer i5 systems, directly next to their production applications.

 

The results can be huge savings, with PC servers being nixed in favor of consolidated partitions and expensive commercial software being replaced by less expensive-if not free-open-source alternatives. This can drive down IT costs in profound ways, allowing organizations to more effectively respond to market pressures in more creative ways instead of consuming valuable IT resources to, as Clary puts it, "fight fires."

 

Understanding the Downside

Havertys, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, sells what Clary characterizes as "mid- to upper-end" furniture, with offerings ranging from accent pieces and curios to master-bedroom and dining-room sets. Its retail reach spans 16 mostly Southeastern U.S. states, from Florida to Texas to southern Ohio. And the company, which employs around 5,000, only continues to grow, opening around six retail locations annually to add to its existing 118.

 

Acting as its fulfillment backbone are three distribution centers and several home-delivery sites. Clary indicates that this is what gives the company "a competitive advantage." He adds, "We've developed a distribution system that we believe is as good as any out there. And given our industry, this is a necessity. People want their furniture within three to five days, and if you can do that, you're creating excellent customer satisfaction."

 

 

"Unlike when we start bringing Windows servers into our environment, we won't be locked into a proprietary platform. Linux on the iSeries system allows us to add and remove resources quickly in response to changing conditions." - Ed Clary, CIO, Harvertys Furniture Companies, Inc.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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