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The Almighty Buck

The FAA Saves $15 Million by Migrating to Linux 191

Posted by Zonk
from the new-hat-means-cheaper-bills dept.
Neopallium writes "Red Hat has announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) saved the federal government more than $15 million in datacenter operating and upgrading costs by migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The FAA executed a major systems migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux in one-third of the original scheduled time and with 30 percent more operational efficiency than the previous system."
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The FAA Saves $15 Million by Migrating to Linux

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:50PM (#15214174) Journal

    Disclaimer: I love Linux (and Un*x), and I hope someday Linux (and Un*x) becomes a majority player in the computing world. But, ...

    The article paints a rosy success story, but consider the source. This is a Red Hat press release. While it all may be completely true with no misdirection, I put little stock in self-congratulation, especially after an amazing experience with a similar Microsoft claim.

    I worked for a major Telcom years ago and we merged with a smaller firm... Shortly after the merger, Microsoft put a full page ad in Time magazine describing an enourmous success story of how our new company now comprised of two previous companies combined the two companies' IT systems and integrated them seamlessly with Micosoft's then new .NET platform.

    This would have been an amazing success story except for the fact that:

    1. .NET still had not been released for general consumption
    2. noone in our IT knew of this stunning success effort
    3. our "integrated" systems weren't

    For those who doubt, I can provide the digital photograph of the ad, I was so amazed I actually took a picture of it (I will have to dig it out, but I know I have it.)

    I know many would not be surprised by a bogus claim from a Microsoft, but I don't trust that any company providing a press release to be providing real news (or trustworthy, or balanced, etc.).

    This whole "press release" presented as "news" would be more honest if they placed the disclaimer information up front. (If you don't read all the way to the VERY LAST LINE of the article, you won't know the source is Red Hat.

    • Here, here. Can you imagine the backlash if a pro-Windows story posted here was based off of a Microsoft press release?
      • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:35PM (#15214680) Journal
        Uh... that happens all the time. Remember those (many) comparison studies of Windows vs. Linux, all of them funded by Microsoft and all of them concluding that Windows was better for this-or-that reason?
      • Just a note to the others on slashdot, who I've seen do this before - it's "hear hear", as in, what you do with your ears.

        And also, when you don't care about something, you don't give a rat's ass about it, otherwise you'd care enough to go and find a rat, rip off its ass, and give it to the thing you 'dont care' about.[/end 'well known phrases' rant]
    • by gdek (202709) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:57PM (#15214271)
      There's nothing disingenuous about this. We released it as a press release on our own site:

      http://www.redhat.com/about/news/prarchive/2006/fa a.html [redhat.com]

      Everything about it shouts "press release", including the SEC warnings at the bottom and the press contact information. As is typical with press releases, it was picked up and run all over the place. That's what press releases are for. Anything that comes from Business Wire is a press release.

      If you think it's dishonestly masquerading as "real news," that's your mistake.
      • There's nothing disingenuous about this. We released it as a press release on our own site:

        I think the OP was not so much complaining about red hat's actions as the submitters (and by extension the editors).

        Red Hat releasing a press release = OK.

        Slashdot featuring regurgitation of said press release on its front page as 'news' = not OK.

        (At least this shows the MS / Apple Fanboys that the /. hive mind jumps just as hard on linux fluff pieces as it does on MS / Apple fluff)
      • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:16PM (#15214485) Journal
        >Everything about it shouts "press release",

        Not quite. Looking carefully, I found a sentence in which the author failed to use "Red Hat Enterprise Linux." There might be a scond one, but I missed it :)

        hawk
      • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:20PM (#15214533) Journal
        Everything about it shouts "press release", including the SEC warnings at the bottom and the press contact information. As is typical with press releases, it was picked up and run all over the place. That's what press releases are for. Anything that comes from Business Wire is a press release.

        Thanks for the info, I did not know everything from Business Wire was a press release. However, my first guess as to what a publication "Business Wire" would represent would be news about business, not press releases. When I think of Wall Street Journal, I think of articles about business and Wall Street.

        As for everything about it "shouting" press release, I'm only giving my opinion, and I don't think it "shouts" press release.

        I also have no problems with Red Hat or any other business issuing press releases, they SHOULD. As for whether it is something that should be on slashdot, I refer to the slogan "News that Matters". It's only my opinion, but I don't think press releases fall into that category. (I would have no problem with slashdot creating a category "press releases".)

        As in my original post, I have high hopes for Linux, I just prescribe caution to readers who don't know Business Wire is a press-release publication (I didn't). And, as in the anecdotal case I cited, sometimes the press release (or ad) is not only misleading, it is completely false. (The ad I mentioned even had testimonials from Microsoft and "our company" employees... statements and testimonials which COULDN'T have been true.)

        And, for the record, I hold Red Hat in high regard for their contributions to the Linux movement.

        • Much of the "news" posted on slashdot are just reposted press releases. You just pay a wire service to run your press release and it spreads like wildfire with all the news aggregators on the net.

          It's also pretty easy to plant a few favorable articles around the place to give yourself PR. It's just marketing. I treat slashdot articles as basically like a tech news wire.. Most of them are probably planted by marketing firms (it's not like slashdot is some secret hideout, everyone knows about it,) so take it
        • by igaborf (69869) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:36PM (#15214691)
          There's nothing inherently wrong with a press release. Sure, they only give one side of the story. If you want a more balanced analysis, find a publication that attempts to provide that. Slashdot is not such a publication, has never been, and has never purported to be. Slashdot is little more than a community blog (although it predates the term), with all of the one-sided postings and comments that implies.

          Slashdot doesn't practice "journalism." If you want that, look elsewhere.

          It should be pointed out, though, that the ./ item begins with "Red Hat has announced..." That makes it pretty clear what the bias of the report is going to be.
        • As for everything about it "shouting" press release, I'm only giving my opinion, and I don't think it "shouts" press release.

          Agreed. In fact, I've seen press releases that began with the words "for immediate release" and similar verbiage... I would say that such articles are closer to being up front about their press-release status. Whereas the only thing that might be taken to be indicative of press release status for this article (aside from the print buried at the end that you point out) is that it i

        • "As for everything about it "shouting" press release, I'm only giving my opinion, and I don't think it "shouts" press release."

          You need to think harder. See the part in the "forward looking statements" section that reads:

          "Any statements in this press release about future expectations..." (emphasis mine)

          It even states right in the "article" it is a Press Release!

        • As for everything about it "shouting" press release, I'm only giving my opinion, and I don't think it "shouts" press release.

          Anyone who knows what a press release looks like instantly recognized what the linked article was. And now that you know what a press release looks like, you'll be able to recognize them in the future too.
    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:57PM (#15214275)
      1. .NET still had not been released for general consumption
      2. noone in our IT knew of this stunning success effort
      3. our "integrated" systems weren't

      The real question here, at least to me: Was Microsoft ever punished by your company for running this false ad?

      Or did Microsoft pay for the privilege by giving you discounted software or something else of value. Something else, besides a nice lunch for the VP of MIS, I mean.

    • you have to read between the lines, what FTA really said is converting from unix to linux is not as hard as conveting from WinXP to WinXP SP2; well not as hard if you sacrifice security and have everbody running admin privilages.
    • I'm still trying to figure out how someone doesn't recognize this is a press release by Red Hat. "VERY LAST LINE" my foot! Try the very first line: "Red Hat has announced" from Slashdot and "Red Hat (NASDAQ: RHAT), the world's leading provider of open source to the enterprise, today announced" from the link. Do people not start with the very first line when reading an article?
    • Oh my, we are turning a Red Hat Press release that possibly paints a little-two rosy picture of Linux into a Microsoft bash session> This seems a little surreal to me... ;-)
    • Please note: the migration was from "Costly unix" to Linux. So this isn't a Windows->Linux migration story, but a *nix->Linux migration story.
    • Simple: Red Hat has more of the trust of the community than Microsoft. Therefore, people are more likely to believe what Red Hat says, for the purposes of a Slashdot discussion, than they are to believe Microsoft. It's no different from believing Wikipedia when it doesn't really matter anyway. It's perfectly rational.

      This should hardly be surprising.

    • I agree wholheartedly with your opinion. Though I have no problem with Red Had and will always advocate Linux over any POS Microshaft solution, advertisements (for that is what this is) like this smack of disingenuity.

      Regardless of whether it is Steve "Go to Hell" Ballamer hawking the latest version of WinNT or RedHat trumpeting their "success" over the competition, I can't help associating the person with a used-car salesman.
    • by misleb (129952)
      In my opinion, press relesaes are worthless. They are put together by marketing and PR people. They can not be trusted (both the people and the press releases). I don't care how great a company is or how otherwise respectable they are. Marketing, PR, and advertising people are dishonest by default (with exceptions, I'm sure). What is sad is that press releases have become news in and of themselves. Far too many supposed news sources just pass the releases on as news rather than critically examining them.

      The
    • Yeah, I'm trolling. But admit it, when you read "migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux" in the summary, you too thought: "from Windows". In fact, FAA switched from the "proprietory Unix platform"...
    • by Jetson (176002) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @04:10PM (#15215442) Homepage
      The article paints a rosy success story, but consider the source. This is a Red Hat press release.

      I don't know about the numbers (and the news story was cut off when I tried to access it), but the migration is real and the numbers don't seem unrealistic. They replaced a bunch of HP C360 machines running HP/UX with Intel-based RHEL boxes. This reduced the per-seat license costs while upgrading hardware to support more users.

      This system in question runs Volpe's Enhanced Traffic Management System (aka "flow control") and is commonly seen on news stories about ATC as it has a very public-friendly display with national/state borders and little airplane symbols. For example, all the news stories on 9/11 that showed the aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean being rerouted were filming ETMS displays.

    • The article paints a rosy success story, but consider the source. This is a Red Hat press release. While it all may be completely true with no misdirection, I put little stock in self-congratulation, especially after an amazing experience with a similar Microsoft claim.

      Wait? Your confusing me?!

      I think the point of the matter is who side you are on. Not personal experience or who funded whose studies.

      Either you are for Microsoft or pro-Linux.

      If you don't pick sides, your against both sides!

      So are you a Micro
  • by JustASlashDotGuy (905444) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:52PM (#15214199)

    "The FAA's successful and impressive migration truly exemplifies the value, performance and security
    of Red Hat Enterprise Linux,"


    All the stories talks about is how they came in under budget. Another reason for saving 15 million
    could be that someone simply budgeted too much money. Much like when your wife spends $200 on a pocket
    book that normally cost $250, and then she tells you that she saved $50!.

    D*mn women.. oh wait.. what was I talking about again?
    • "Much like when your wife spends $200 on a pocket book that normally cost $250, and then she tells you that she saved $50!."

      I guess that's why Microsoft never had an ad campaign telling everyone how they can "save -$300"...
    • Given that it was a government project, this is almost definitely NOT true.

      If you come in 15 million under budget, the budgeting committees are going to look at it, and say "Good job. Now we can give you less money next year".

      In government spending, the goal is often to spend as much of your budget as possible, only going slightly over the original budgeted amount. This way, you get a slightly incresed budget the next year, and don't necessarily get blamed for over-spending. The only reward for coming in
      • But it seems that the budget was for a transition that is not expected to happen every year. I could bet that this budget is not part of the normal budget, or it is at least a fraction of the normal budget, in witch case if you didn't spended it all in the migration you could use it to fix the restroom in the 3rd floor. I don't know how it is in the US, but here in Brazil, when the fiscal year get's to the end and there is still money to be spended there is a rush to find out every single item that needs fi
        • Yea pretty much the same in the US. I worked at a Hospital and they did exactly the same thing. We had a dozen IBM brand 1200 baud smart modems stored in the machine room. I asked why did we buy them since even a real Hayes modem would have been a lot cheaper. What a stupid question that was. We where an IBM shop and we needed to use up our budget.
          This was back in the 80s when IBM was evil, OS/2 was going to be the next big thing, and 286s where fast and expensive.
      • If you come in 15 million under budget, the budgeting committees are going to look at it, and say "Good job. Now we can give you less money next year".

        This is why if a given organization has $15 million, they will spend $14.5 million on the actual project and as close to $500,000 as possible on office supplies, Aeron chairs, etc. so they can say that they need at least as much money next fiscal year. I work in the federal government, I see this all the time. I can't get training until August or September

    • All the stories talks about is how they came in under budget. Another reason for saving 15 million
      could be that someone simply budgeted too much money. Much like when your wife spends $200 on a pocket
      book that normally cost $250, and then she tells you that she saved $50!.

      Just be lucky she didn't decide to 'save' $100 and buy two different colours. :-P
  • by TexasDex (709519) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:53PM (#15214215) Homepage
    What OS did they migrate from? NetWare? SCO? FreeBSD? Windows 98? TFA says nothing about their previous platform.
    • You mean TFPR. The eFfing Press Release. Sloppy journalism. That stuff should never just be released without someone at least getting a fricking quote from the FAA.
    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:01PM (#15214324)
      From TFA:

      By migrating from a costly UNIX platform to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on its workstations, servers and at the hub site, the FAA was able to eliminate costs and ineffective systems, while creating a scalable architecture that met their high-demand environment today and for the future.

      So, pick one: Solaris, HPUX or AIX.

      • AIX is my guess (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        So, pick one: Solaris, HPUX or AIX.

        It's pretty well known amongst the compugeek-pilot community that the FAA had a boatload of stuff running on some pretty old RS6000 iron, with quite a bit of it still running on AIX 3.2.5 which was end-of-lifed by IBM like sometime last century.

        So, from your three guesses... I'd have to say that the first two don't count ;-)

        This is mostly for their "business" systems, not the national airspace operations (the flightplan and radar systems) which are being migrated to a Linu
      • OMG!

        Talk about a /. article dredging up an old, old memory (of mine).

        Back about 12 or 13 years ago, the company I was working for won
        a bid for new Tektronix Phaser color wax printers for capturing
        screen images from the computers used in the FAA's training
        center at FAA HQ in Washington, DC.

        The front-end (w/User Interface and Display) were Apollo work-
        stations running some flavor of unix, while the back-end processors
        were DEC MicroVAXs, tied into real and canned radar data. The cable
        runs were chock-full of (
    • Box cost going from from $25k to $3k does not sound like a "from Windows" migration.

      So far many/most large to-Linux migrations have been from some Unix-like or big-iron OS. Very few have been from-Microsoft.

      • If linux wasn't there they would have gone to windows. People seem to miss that. The best thing linux ever did was to prevent MS from leveraging their desktop monopoly into a monopoly on servers.

  • by MoFoQ (584566)
    Hmmm...apparently it was slashdotted even before I can read it.
    talk about efficiency!

    anyone have the google cache version handy?
  • Not a surprise... (Score:4, Informative)

    by tyler_larson (558763) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:54PM (#15214222) Homepage
    ..not a surprise that they'd move to Linux, given their recent bad experience [slashdot.org] with Windows.
  • It is not clear if they got $15m in savings by moving from Windows, another flavor of *nix, or some old paper based system. It would really help if the article had some more substantive detail. BTW, I'm personally $7m better off than I would be if I'd have bought myself a Bombadier jet. Now, if I could just find that $7m I'd be able to do something fun with it.
    • They moved from a "costly UNIX system". It says it right in the press release.
    • It is not clear if they got $15m in savings by moving from Windows, another flavor of *nix, or some old paper based system.

      RTFA, specifically paragraph 4:

      "By migrating from a costly crayon, construction-paper, scissors, and Elmer's glue-based platform to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on its workstations, servers and at the hub site, the FAA was able to eliminate costs and ineffective systems, while creating a scalable architecture that met their high-demand environment today and for the future."

      I might have made
  • Migrating from ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by rtaylor (70602) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:00PM (#15214312) Homepage
    By migrating from a costly UNIX platform to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on its workstations, servers and at the hub site, the FAA was able to eliminate costs and ineffective systems, while creating a scalable architecture that met their high-demand environment today and for the future.

    Quite possibly this is from IBM (Aix) to IBM (Redhat). More likely is that it is another kick in the crotch for Sun.
  • Not a big victory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:03PM (#15214343) Homepage

    By migrating from a costly UNIX platform to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on its workstations, servers and at the hub site, the FAA was able to eliminate costs and ineffective systems, while creating a scalable architecture that met their high-demand environment today and for the future.

    I think that puts it into perspective quite clearly. This was just a conversion from say... Solaris over to Linux. It's not an agency convinced that Linux was better than Windows and then converted over to Linux. Making a really big deal out of this is like saying that it's bold step for environmentalism to replace a hybrid civic with a Prius instead of a 250mi/gal future version of the smartcar.

  • I remember sometime back in the nineties, a government report was released detailing how secure the governments systems were from cyberterrorism. The only department that was secure was the FAA, because "their systems were so antiquated, they could not be accessed with modern equipment."

    Maybe they are finally getting something going? :)
    • I also recall seeing a TV news story a few years ago regarding the air traffic control systems in the U.S. Some of them still relied on components that also were a bit antiquated and hard to find. I am talking about old Sovtek (sp?) vacuum tubes. Seriously. If I can find an URL I will post it. But figuring man went to the moon based on the technology that nowadays is housed in a handheld scientific calculator I guess anything is possible :-/
      • Here is a link to a story [pbs.org] regarding antiquated air traffic control systems. It is more than just a few years old. Eleven in fact. But nevertheless I doubt that things are much more advanced even eleven years later. Maybe the FAA in the /. story could have invested in some of the $150 Chinese peecees?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The FAA has a long history IT disasters, dating back to the early 1980's. Whatever happened to the Advanced Automation System,
      originally contracted to IBM and EDS in 1981 and still not deployed? Taxpayers have spent about $40 billion on that one, with still
      very little to show for it.

      A brief history of FAA competence. Not the best source, but then the government isn't good about revealing its failures.

      http://www.baselinemag.com/print_article2/0,1217,a =25163,00.asp [baselinemag.com]
    • If the systems the FAA used in the field were the same as their training/testing
      center at FAA HQ in Washington, DC (unknown), then the equipment wasn't just
      OLD, it was ANTIQUE!

      I worked for a contractor installing new color printers there 12 or 13 years ago,
      and their equipment consisted of HP Apollo (unix) workstation front-ends tied
      to DEC MicroVAX 400's (DEC unix) via DECNet. HIPPI(sp?) high speed interfaces
      linked the MicroVAXs to the live & canned radar data.
  • by syrinx (106469) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:05PM (#15214361) Homepage
    "So, airlines are going bankrupt all over the place, ticket sales are down, and we're still in no position to catch terrorists."

    "That sounds bad."

    "But there is good news."

    "What's that?"

    "I just saved a bunch of money on datacenter operating and upgrading costs by switching to Linux."

  • Yes, you can do this, it's actually firly common:

    http://www.itworld.com/Comp/1369/LWD000606S390/ [itworld.com]

    I thought the problem was old, tube-based hardware in the TRACONS and elsewhere always going blinky. Software would be the least of their worries.
  • ETMS System (Score:5, Informative)

    by apfistler (971310) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @02:15PM (#15214479)
    For all of those who are curious as to what was there before. I worked on this project and was incharge of automating the installation process on the integration side and was part of the integration team for this project. The old system were old HP C360's running HPUX 10.20. The whole TFMI system has been ported and updated since the early 90's. Before they were running on the 360s the system was running on Apollo's before. Of course this refresh was way cheaper in '05 than the earlier refresh because in the '98 refresh they had to swap out thinnet for CAT 5. And if you ever seen some of the cable trays at some of these TRACONS on Towers.... some aren't pretty, espically at BWI. Since the CAT 5 was in place it was as simple as swapping out the machines and putting in the new routers when we got on site. And yes for a govement project this went realitivly smoothly. Once I set up the kickstart server and scripted the install for the ETMS software, intergrating the HP XW8000 workstations was as easy as just hitting F12, so even our warehouse logistic's person could integrate the machines.
  • Did the air traffic control center really have a "Microsoft server crash"?
    Submitted by doc on Wed, 09/22/2004 - 19:02.

    On Tuesday, September 14, something went wrong at the FAA's regional center that controls high altitude air traffic over Southern California and much of the southwest U.S. Two days later, this Associated Press story (carried here on MSNBC) summarized the problem in its opening sentence: "Failure to perform a routine maintenance check caused the shutdown of an air traffic communications syste
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It makes big news that the FAA either can't write a program to save their lives or contracted out to a low/shitty bidder? 49.7, that means that they decided to rely on a simple tickcount, an unsigned 32-bit value representing the number of milliseconds passed since the system had started. On any OS (2^32)-1 milliseconds is 49.7 days.

      Windows has a lot of other timer mechanisms built into it. The performance counters in particular have a significantly higher degree of fidelity, generally in the tens of mic
  • But... (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by ortcutt (711694)
    Considering that Federal Government pisses away $15 million every two hours in Iraq, it hardly makes a dent.
  • by xmorg (718633)
    The Article is biased by the use of the word "migrating". Given all of the illegal immigration news in the US, the term was used to slant the article towards Microsoft by the use of the derogatory term "migrate" in reference to Linux. But, more correct term should be "upgrading". To be fair.
  • In other news, Microsoft and Sun announced the joint purchase of a former Soviet manufacturer of ground-to-air missiles...

  • by theJML (911853) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:41PM (#15215222) Homepage
    I didn't realize that the 2.6 kernel ran on vaccuum tubes! Suppose they just compiled it all "-O2 -march=eniac"
  • lower costs? more efficiency? my government? guess the world's ending tomorrow!!
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @03:52PM (#15215291) Homepage
    According to her, the migration from was from Unix to Linux. The assumption (or wish?) would have been that the migration was away from Microsoft. In the absense of any such information, I asked.

    That said, it's still not a migration from Unix to Microsoft, but still...
  • Anecdote... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bazman (4849) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @05:12PM (#15215988) Journal
    Back in 1992 I got a tour of the Atlas Computing Centre in the UK (I was doing a particle physics course at nearby RAL). We got to touch the Cray. Ooh geek heaven. Anyway, in the foyer was part of one of their first computers, the Atlas 1. It looked like a modular synth, all cables and patch leads. The guide then told us there were only three of these left - this one here, one behind glass in the Science Museum in London, and one other... ...currently doing Air Traffic Control for Heathrow Airport. He wasn't joking.

  • Oooh! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @05:13PM (#15215993)
    Who got the facts NOW!??

    You ain't got no facts, Bill! We got the facts!
  • My read on the story is that Linux on x86 replaced expensive proprietary unix systems.

    "By migrating from a costly UNIX platform to Red Hat Enterprise Linux on its workstations, servers and at the hub site,"

    How exactly is this being read as a blow to microsoft? Linux is killing off the Unix market.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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