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Big-business technologists talk up Linux

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Several IT executives at the LinuxWorld Summit last week reinforced the idea that Linux now has the technical brawn and industry support to accommodate the most demanding business applications in environments such as finance, airline reservations and stock trading.

Speaking at the trade show, top technologists from Citigroup, Cendant Travel Distribution Services, E*Trade Financial and other companies shared their experiences with Linux in a corporate environment.

While the next full-scale LinuxWorld won't take place until August in San Francisco, the smaller, regional LinuxWorld Summit offered US East Coast IT professionals a chance to exchange best practices and learn about the latest open source technology. The show drew more than a dozen exhibitors, including IBM, Novell, Nokia and Sybase, and more than 300 IT executives, according to show organizers.

The promises of a succesful move to Linux -- greater speed and lower costs -- are what every technology-dependent business is after.

"We were a poster child for Sun," said Joshua Levine, CTO and operations officer at E*Trade Financial in New York. During the Internet boom, he said, E*Trade went on a rampant server consolidation project, moving to some of the largest Sun platforms. "We had done everything quote-unquote right from an Internet company standpoint."

But then the downturn came, and the firm needed to improve its margins.

"When you throw everything up on a white board, you notice the only technology pricing that's been in a deflationary spiral is around the Intel architecture," he said.

This led the firm to migrate its Unix applications to Linux to take advantage of lower-cost Intel hardware.

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