Ford switches to Linux-based servers

Ford Motor is opting for Linux to replace some of their Unix-based servers.

Ford Motor is opting for Linux to replace some of their Unix-based servers.

Ford uses versions of Unix from Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, but it is considering more widespread use of Linux on Intel hardware for some of its server-based applications, primarily because of the potential cost benefits, said George Surdu, director of global IT infrastructure at Ford.

Ford has no plans, "in the forseeable future" however, to move to Linux on the desktop. The company recently signed a three-year enterprise agreement with Microsoft covering its desktop operating system, Office applications and other collaborative technologies.

Surdu said the exploration of Linux is part of an aggressive worldwide programme by Ford to simplify and standardise its infrastructure. He estimated the work could take three to five years and noted that Ford has accumulated over time "just about every flavour of everything".

"I believe we are not too different from many companies in that we have this one-in-a-row syndrome. Every solution is a new architecture and a different type of technology, and that requires a tremendous amount of integration," Surdu said, adding that the wide range of technologies has become cumbersome and difficult to manage.

Ford certainly is not the only large corporation expected to try Linux in the server environment.

In a Forrester Research survey of 75 IT executives at companies with at least $500m in annual revenue, 24% of the respondents said they were likely or very likely to adopt Linux during the next year for infrastructure purposes, according to analyst Ted Schadler.

Among that group, 17% said they were likely to use Linux for application serving, and 15% said they were likely to run databases and engineering workstations on Linux. Only one company said it was likely to move to Linux desktops during the coming year.

Carol Sliwa writes for Computerworld


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