Linux server migration next on Usha Martin's open-source roadmap

With desktop migration from Windows to Linux complete, the manufacturer has now set its sights on switching server platforms.

By Jasmine Desai, Principal Correspondent,

For manufacturer Usha Martin Ltd., the call to migrate from Microsoft Windows to Linux across the organization is driven by a clear mandate: total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction, increased security and the need to do away with forced upgrades. As part of this project, the Kolkata-based maker of integrated specialty steel and wire rope has already moved its 700 desktops from Microsoft Windows to SUSE Linux. Next on Usha Martin's Linux strategy is the migration of its Windows-based servers to the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform.

Blue-screen woes

Linux adoption at Usha Martin is motivated by the need to escape from increasing security attacks and to reduce downtime, a realization made after operating in Windows environments for almost six years. According to S Jala, the chief information officer of group IT for Usha Martin, the alarming rise in security threats in the form of viruses (Trojans, backdoors, etc.), spyware and malware were the main concern, as these led to data security compromises.

Usha Martin's IT department was spending more time in resolving system crash issues than concentrating on more value-added tasks. "This was the primary concern prompting us to shift to a more secure system which is [more] proactive in terms of security and robustness than the vulnerable systems which were in use," Jala said.

Selection criteria

While evaluating Linux distributions, Usha Martin's prime selection criteria included the capability to integrate existing applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and email clients. After-sales support from the principal company, end-user convenience and seamless migration were also part of the required parameters. The company zeroed in on SUSE Linux from Novell since it fulfilled all these requirements.

After a testing period of around three months and a deployment period of around two months, Usha Martin finally moved its 700 desktops to the Linux platform in 2008. Initial support was provided by Novell Inc. At present, Usha Martin's internal IT team supports the entire organization.

TCO has come down by a claimed 90%. Our IT team can now put its energy, time and concentration in tasks that add more value.
S Jala
chief information officer of group ITUsha Martin

After the rollout

There were several post-deployment challenges for Usha Martin on the employee usage front. No formal change management program was undertaken as such, but a briefing was given to the employees on why they were migrating to Linux. Training sessions were conducted, and migration at the plant level was conducted only after gauging employee confidence.

According to Jala, system crashes due to viruses and the infamous blue screen have become things of the past. "System crash occurrences have come down by almost 90%, saving manpower costs and financial losses earlier incurred by the organization," he said. "TCO has come down by a claimed 90%. IT team can now put its energy, time and concentration in tasks that add more value." Applications such as email, office, FTP applications, computer-aided design viewer and ERP clients are running on these desktops.

Shifting Usha Martin's Window servers to Linux is next on the IT roadmap. As part of this migration exercise slated for Q3 2009-10, Usha Martin will move its 10 Windows-based servers to the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform.

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