Leaner, meaner Linux makes savings for Bergen

The Norwegian City of Bergen is expecting to make savings on software, hardware, licensing and support costs by moving its servers to Linux
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor
The City of Bergen is now midway through its migration to Linux on the server, and is looking forward to making very significant savings through moving away from Windows.

Ole-Bjørn Tuftedal, the city's chief technology officer, said on Thursday that Bergen has evaluated the cost of running Windows or Linux on IBM Blade servers and found that Linux runs more efficiently. As a result, fewer Blade servers are needed to provide services to the same number of users.

"We found that we could save at least 30 percent on hardware alone because Linux is leaner and meaner -- it scales better so you can get more out of the same bit of hardware," said Tuftedal.

He said that this cost saving made the schools in Bergen more enthusiastic about migrating to Linux, as they realised that using Microsoft would leave less money for new PCs at the schools.

As well as using Linux on the blade servers, Bergen has chosen to use open-source software to run the majority of the basic functions, including the file server. "On the server side just about everything we are using is open source, for example, we are using Samba server with OpenLDAP to replace the Windows domain controller," said Tuftedal.

The use of Linux and other open-source applications has saved Bergen considerable costs in licensing, and Tuftedal expects that the software will be more stable cutting down on support costs.

"We also saved 40 to 50 percent on licensing and support costs by doing the server upgrade -- we expect it to be more stable and easy to manage."

These cost savings apply to just one part of Bergen's server migration project -- migrating from 100 Windows NT servers to 20 IBM Blades running Linux for the educational network.

The city has not yet calculated the cost savings for its second project -- migrating from 20 HP-UX and 10 Microsoft servers running Oracle databases, to 10 HP Integrity Itanium 64-bit servers running Linux. Oracle is used for all the city's administrative functions which require a database, including a social services, document retrieval and GIS system, the latter of which has details on all the utilities used by Bergen, including every water pipe and electricity line.

SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, the latest version of Novell SuSE's enterprise offering, is being run on the majority of the school servers, and will run on all of the database servers.

For the school network, Bergen set up a system which linked disk-less blade servers to a Storage Area Network (SAN), a high-speed sub-network of shared storage devices. Tuftedal said he was surprised at how easy it was to set up this system using Linux.

"It took us maybe half a day to do the set-up so we can use disk-less blade servers booting directly from the SAN," said Tuftedal. "I found it impressive how easy it was to do such a bleeding-edge technology with Linux."

Bergen completed the system set-up in early autumn and is in the process of moving one school at a time from their on-site NT server to the central Linux servers. Around 85 of the 100 schools are due to be finished by the end of this year, and the last 15 percent will be finished early next year, according to Tuftedal.

The city has slipped behind schedule on its database migration due to problems with integrating the HP servers and IBM SAN technology, and also because Oracle only released the certification for its 10G database on Itanium hardware and SuSE Enterprise Linux 9 in the second half of October, said Tuftedal.

The first test phase of the database set-up is expected to be completed soon, and Tuftedal hopes that it will be able to start the pilot project in December this year. For the pilot it plans to move the helpdesk and ticketing system of the computing centre into the Linux-based platform.

Bergen is not the only government authority which is part way through a migration to open-source software. The City of Munich, which plans to migrate 14,000 desktops to open source, has switched to a Mozilla browser and is due to start migrating to OpenOffice in the first half of next year. The Ministry of Defence in Singapore has installed OpenOffice.org on 5,000 PCs , and is planning to deploy it on a further 15,000 within the next 18 months.

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