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Orange Swaps Vendors for Clusters

Smartphone maker Orange this week said it has switched to a different set of hardware and software infrastructure vendors to service its mobile customers.

Previously the British telecommunications firm had used Sun Microsystems, RISC based system to support subscriber databases. The new system consists of four, clustered, Dell PowerEdge 6650 servers running Oracle9i Database on Red Hat Linux over Intel Xeon processors.

Orange says its databases store preferences for more than 13 million of its customers and help it deliver targeted content through the company's portfolio of information portals such as Web sites, WAP, SMS, MMS, audio and video content services.

The deal is also a boon to Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle consulting, which helped in deployment and optimization.

"We have achieved up to ten times the previous performance at a lower cost," Paul Thompson, head of technical operations for Orange Multimedia Operations, said.

Thompson's numbers are about right, according to one analyst. "The price performance benefit of replacing proprietary Unix systems with Linux on Intel is about a tenfold increase," said Ted Schadler, principal analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

John McLevy, vice president of Oracle Enterprise Technology in Europe, Middle East and Africa said it is another example of the increasing popularity of Linux .

"We are seeing more customers like Orange using Linux-based Oracle9i Database with Real Application Clusters on Dell and Intel," he said.

John Humphreys, analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass., agreed that the deal shows Linux has legs.

"Linux started making inroads into telecommunications a few years ago, said Humphreys. "That's when Motorola started using it to lower the cost of telecommunications infrastructure. "This deal is an early example of Linux in a live, production teleco environment."

Forrester predicts 2003 will be a big year for Linux. "We think Linux will reach the 'tipping point' this year," said Schadler. "CIO's are going to start asking 'Can we replace these legacy systems with Linux?"