Winnebago maker taps Linux for long haul

Mobile home maker implements Linux-based email system

As the debate about Linux's market share on servers heats up, IBM today announced that Winnebago Industries is implementing a new email system based on an IBM eServer running Linux.

Winnebago, the well-known manufacturer of recreational vehicles, has adopted the open-standards-based Bynari Insight Server solution, which enables it to run its email workload on Linux partitions alongside its mainframe's standard productivity workload.

"This has enabled Winnebago to leverage their existing technology investment while increasing scalability and availability," Joann Duguid, IBM's director of Linux for zSeries, told eWEEK. "They have also simplified their server management by consolidating the work of their NT servers on one machine. Bynari recently ported its application to our zSeries mainframe running Linux. Winnebago is the first customer to roll out this particular solution anywhere in the world."

Winnebago had been running several different email applications, and it decided to consolidate them on the mainframe, Duguid said. The company is now running Turbolinux.

Winnebago will initially roll the service out to some 700 mailboxes in the US.

Dave Ennen, technical support manager at Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa, said the company selected this solution because it was "significantly cheaper, and the cost of technical expertise needed to learn something new on the PC-based platform would have been substantial".

Ennen expects the system to be up and running by the beginning of July. Winnebago uses Linux mostly for servers, running mission-critical applications like DNS and FTP.

"We are a traditional mainframe shop and initially had mainframe-based email," he said. "But that wasn't ideal, so we eventually moved to [Microsoft's] Outlook, which at that time cost about $8 a client. But now, as we want to put resources behind our email solution, Outlook was just not cost-effective. The Bynari solution cost about a third of what another email solution would have."

While Winnebago continues to run Windows on its desktops, the Bynari solution provides a bridge between Unix/Linux workstations and Microsoft Outlook desktops, Ennen added.

Winnebago is also planning to consolidate, on the same mainframe, the work of 40 other servers currently handling file serving and other applications.

Duguid said she is seeing strong interest from IBM's top clients in running Linux in general, with a number of customers looking at the Bynari solution on the mainframe. "Linux is enterprise ready, and some of our top customers are running it in production in mission-critical environments," she said. "As the trend continues toward multiple platforms that interoperate seamlessly, demand for Linux will grow."

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