The IT departments of many federal agencies use a healthy number of Unix-compatible, homegrown apps written in a variety of languages, even some they wrote. To keep long-term costs down, some agencies are looking to migrate these apps away from the bigger iron to lower-end Linux and Intel-based servers.
“In the federal agencies, most of the technologies we are dealing with are Unix-to-Linux migration,” says Pete Graner, director of federal services at Red Hat. “There is a lot of customized porting going on with existing apps, basically recompiling them to run on Red Hat Linux.”
The Department of Defenseand military branches often have outdated Unix-based systems. Many IT departments have been reluctant to upgrade these 15- and 20-year-old systems because they function with few glitches and do not require additional investment. But now, facing pressure from both the Web-using public and other agencies to modernize their systems, they are looking hard at Linux-based platforms.
“Now they are being forced to change, and their [IT] contractors, who are their primary developers, feel more comfortable in a Unix-style environment. Linux is a more natural step for them because it is lower-cost and has an open development model,” Graner explains.
Among many federal agencies, IT centers are updating older Unix-based infrastructure applications as well. Many are migrating off Unix-based Oracle databases to Linux running on Intel servers. Also, within smaller agencies, Web-based applications development is increasing with the MySQL and PostgreSQL open source databases, Graner says.
“You are seeing a big push towards MySQL because technical resources are easy to find and it is just a lot cheaper than Oracle and DB2,” Graner says.