Qantas ditches Linux for AIX

Qantas ditches Linux for AIX

Summary: Qantas will next month shift the underlying platform running its internal finance systems from Linux to IBM's Unix variant AIX as part of its wide-ranging eQ transformation project. "We're moving from a Linux platform to an IBM AIX environment -- we did that to address some stability issues we were having," said Suzanne Young, Qantas group general manager for finance improvement and segmentation.

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Qantas will next month shift the underlying platform running its internal finance systems from Linux to IBM's Unix variant AIX as part of its wide-ranging eQ transformation project.

"We're moving from a Linux platform to an IBM AIX environment -- we did that to address some stability issues we were having," said Suzanne Young, Qantas group general manager for finance improvement and segmentation. The decision was made last year, as part of the planning for the rollout.

The re-platforming project is currently in the final stages of planning, and is scheduled to go live in May.

Young made the comment in brief during a speech at business intelligence vendor Hyperion's Solutions 2007 conference in Orlando in the US this week, and did not clarify them further. Qantas could not be contacted by press time.

The airline's move would appear to go against an industry trend that has seen many enterprises migrate their Unix infrastructure from old variants of the operating system such as AIX, HP/UX and Solaris to Linux, the new kid on the block.

Local poultry producer Bartter Enterprises, for example, had previously been using Hewlett-Packard's True64 Unix operating system for a number of functions including order entry shipping, but migrated to Red Hat Linux running Oracle in a clustered grid configuration in late 2005.

The eQ program in general is designed to deliver more efficient information for the airline, which has a complex structure with multiple segmented internal businesses using different approaches.

The new platform for the project will be based around Oracle's 11i database and applications, Hyperion's financial management and consolidation tools and a Teradata data warehouse. Oracle flagged its plans to buy Hyperion in early March this year.

Oracle has long been a vocal promoter of Linux as a core platform for large enterprises. Qantas's original plans called for a totally Oracle-based solution, but that was subsequently shifted to a multi-vendor approach to better match Qantas's specific needs, according to Young.

"Our business continues to seek information on a more real-time basis, and that continues to be a challenge," she said.

The impetus to change the internal systems began way back in 2002. "There was a need to transform the way we currently worked, shifting from a transactional focus to more analysis and insight," Young said.

Accuracy and sustainability were also vital, she said. "The safe word at Qantas is a big deal -- it's one of the big recognition points for our brand, and finance is no different." Internal surveys identified fatigue amongst Qantas's 1200 finance staff as a particular concern, she added.

While testing and implementing the technology was important, getting the finance team to accept the new working approach and assist in the transformation was just as large a task, Young said.

Many Qantas finance staff had long-ranging experience, however, retention and hiring was also a concern. "It really is a reasonably tough environment to get out there and hire quality and experienced people to help do this stuff," Young said.

The airline has used the Balanced Scorecard approach to set key performance indicators and identify goals. The full transformation project is scheduled to run until at least 2008. "You simply can't do all this stuff in one hit," Young said.

Pressure on the finance team has increased considerably since the announcement last December of Airline Partners Australia's proposed buyout of the airline. If the buyout does go ahead, the finance transformation will help prepare the airline for any compliance requirements under Sarbanes-Oxley, Young said.

Angus Kidman travelled to Orlando as a guest of Hyperion.

Topics: IBM, Big Data, Data Management, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Oracle, Travel Tech

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20 comments
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  • Linux not safe

    If I read between the lines QANTAS is saying Linux does not provide a safe platform to run core business applications. I thought the world had been convinced to migrate the other way. Now I am confused or maybe QANTAS knows more than the rest of us???
    anonymous
  • who knows...

    Maybe Qantas found one of the apps ported to Linux was dicey and worked better under AIX. For older IBM server hardware (and it may even be true of more recent ones) I really don't see a reason to move away from AIX - it does work. Qantas really haven't given any significant details (nor should you expect them to because this is usually a corporate operating secret). You may notice though that the guys who pay for that advertisement in the right-hand frame never got a mention so you can bet this is a pretty critical application for Qantas.
    anonymous
  • Maybe your right

    I am guessing an airline must need the AIX type platforms as you suggested, or maybe that is the best platform for the application to run on. Of course best practice is pick the application that best fits your needs, then choose the appropriate platform that it runs on and hopefully fits yout IT architecture.

    We will just have to leave the global stock exchanges in New York and London to run on "that" platform mentioned in the right frame...
    anonymous
  • Interesting

    Sounds like a problem with the implementation, design or choice of hardware, not the OS but would be interesting to know exactly what 'stability' issues were happening...
    anonymous
  • True.

    What "true" is that you should have stayed in the tabloid business. OSF/1^WDigital UNIX, on the other hand, is actually spellt "Tru64 UNIX", but hey, what's a letter between friends, eh, Anus?
    anonymous
  • stability

    RHEL is not the answer everyone thinks it is. It is unstable, support is poor and now they've raised the support prices in Australia. We are looking at Solaris 10 x86 again now as it is a far better fit than RHEL.
    anonymous
  • Llinux/AIX

    Perhaps it has nothing to do with Linux or AIX. It might well just be that a certain "outsourced" provider has the motivation to blame "inexplicable" issues on Linux. Besides the fact that more revenue is generated from some providers by placing AIX licences it is also true that a considrable amount of R&D invesment has gone in to making pservers (that run AIX and Linux emulator) "more fault tolarant" borrowing features from trusted mainframe desgin. The ideal solution woudl be perhaps be if vendors complied for Linux on a pserver.. but they don't.
    anonymous
  • I don't think Q know what they're talking about

    We've been running linux at the core of our mission-critical business systems and we have zero complaints. having also worked with AIX in the past i'd say they're going to pay a LOT more cash to get something that's equal, or worse than their current solution, and prob. end up spending 1000s on retraining, and reimplementing infrastructure.

    sounds to me like they just don't have enough people experienced in linux.
    anonymous
  • support?

    what do you need support for? ever tried to get support for a microsoft product? didn't think so.

    sounds to me like you're either trolling or just don't know linux very well. linux' support is IMO streets ahead of any of the commercial vendors i've used (MS, IBM). just that if your idea of calling some toll-free number and waiting for days/weeks for a possible solution then of course linux is going to seem "poorly supported" to you.

    use. the. internet.
    anonymous
  • Oh, you mean the Other Platform...

    ...where you need a 120 server solution for <600 messages a second.

    All this shows is that the LSE CIO is uninformed , nothing more.

    Oh, do they also tell you that Video Ezy canned their supposed Other Platform migration ? They'll tell you all about how their CIO bozo went down that road but they won't let on that eventually saner heads prevailed and the "migration" ended up down the toilet.

    Lies, damn lies, statistics.
    anonymous
  • What's really better?

    Linux updates regularly and IBM sends out an update once a year.
    anonymous
  • Linux over AIX

    Sounds like the accounting department is selecting the equipment and not IT. A move to AIX sounds like the accounting department staying with the old "safe" technology and ignoring the changes in the IT industry. Or this successes Linux has had.

    If the project started in 2002, it sounds like a non-IT run project that had architecture decided on in 2002 and no technology reviews since.
    anonymous
  • It is probably application stability, not OS stability that is the problem

    I have seen this type of problem before. Someone does a poor job porting an application to Linux. After a few years of trying to get the application to work right, without bring in skilled experts they decide to revert to the old application and hence a OS platform compatible with the old software.

    Unfortunately, this rarely works because they forgot the reasons why they wanted to use Linux in the first place.
    anonymous
  • you're an idiot

    Vendors producing linux on system p. http://www.ibm.com/systems/p/linux/
    anonymous
  • Q don't have right IT professionals

    I think Q doesn't have the right kind of IT professionals. I read that they were planning to run Oracle EBS on Linux etc. We migrated Oracle EBS from HP-UX to linux an year and half back and don't have any issue. It's working great, we don't have to pay those expensive HP licenses and do costly server upgrades any more. We get better support from Oracle on EBS running on Linux OS.
    anonymous
  • ... and you've clearly not used supported services

    Commercia support can be pretty darn good. We're not talking call a toll free number and pray here. If you're actually paying for support (as distinct from relying on whatever minimal support is provided on sale of a product) you can get good results.

    In particular, you often get guaranteed bug-fix deadlines and/or penalties for delays. No "we might fix it in the next version"; we're talking "I have an engineer investigating now." You can get penalties for loss of business caused by issues in the software.

    That said, the reality of such paid support offerings can be pretty variable. I've heard more negative feedback than positive regarding Red Hat's ... but then I don't know what it's being compared to. All indications are that Oracle's can be pretty damn bad, and IBM Global Services has a whole library of horror stories. I'd say "you get what you pay for" but it's probably not true.

    That said, "use the Internet" is not always the answer. That's what I do - but there are definitely times I wish I could call someone and say "What did you break in NFS between 2.6.18 and 2.6.20" or "how the hell do I make my 3ware monitoring daemon work properly under 2.6.>10" and get an answer - rather than wasting half a day poking at it.

    Forget your experience waiting on hold for product support - what's being discussed here is different.
    anonymous
  • support

    we're talking enterprise, large company support - not "my PC crashed again" support.
    ever played the "no it's EMCs fault" game ?
    ever tried to get them to analyse a crash dump ?

    log a call with Sun and an engineer calls you within 30 minutes - that's support.
    anonymous
  • interesting....

    Well, the only unreliable linux systems I see are normally due to poor build and or poor attention to detail. We also need to remember that their IT department does not reside inhouse, and it also looks like finance is running the IT department - recipe for disaster.
    anonymous
  • I assume Oracle knows best

    Oracle has changed their base development environment to Linux and is recomending that for demanding applications. Q may be listening to their staff, based on either "our other stuff requires AIX" or "I don't want to learn a new O/S" and if the staff is unhappy already, more complaints may raise fears of a high staff churn.

    Microsoft is good at raising doubts, but IBM is one of the largest Linux supporters, so I doubt they care, or if they do might favor Linux.
    anonymous
  • On The take

    C'mon. Q have had a relationship with IBM for some time now. What a load of tripe. Porting the archaic systems from the old Legacy IBM systems probably did carry glitches across to Linux. Judging the way they maintain their planes lately it all seems to be all care and no responsibility. I hope shareholders will be happy to see their returns spashed at yet another IBM 'entertainment' induced deal.
    anonymous