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Ceramics giant cuts costs by over 30% with European Linux roll-out

Antony Adshead
European ceramics manufacturer Villeroy & Boch claims to have achieved a 30%-40% cost reduction by switching its operations to a Linux infrastructure.

The company has migrated from an HP-UX v10.20 and v11 platform to Red Hat Linux Advanced Server for the infrastructure supporting its SAP enterprise resource planning software across manufacturing sites in Germany, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Hungary and Romania.

Villeroy & Boch staff were impressed by the stability and ease of use of Linux when the firm migrated its Web site operations from Microsoft Internet Transaction Server to the Apache open source Web server.

Thomas Ochs, chief information officer at Villeroy & Boch, said, "We have massively reduced costs in investment and total cost of ownership. We are looking at a 30%-40% saving in the cost of the software and its ongoing support."

Ochs said the migration of the 2,300-seat infrastructure was not without its risks, and having technical staff with the right skills was vital.

"You need technical staff of your own that have a good feeling for the problems in Unix and Linux and a good supplier who can provide consultation where necessary," he said.

The migration took place following a three-week trial of SAP on Linux on a parallel test system. The company rolled out the infrastructure across its 40 European sites over one weekend.

Neil Ward-Dutton, research director at analyst firm Ovum, said, "This is a unique development and the company is taking quite a risk as there is not much evidence of businesses using Linux as a full-blown application server, with most tending to use it for the Web, file or print.

"The marketing message pushes the case for cost savings but there is little evidence for this so far, so I could not recommend others to go down this road without a lot of thought."

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