LJ Archive

From the Editor

Web Technologies for Business Apps

Don Marti

Issue #118, February 2004

Remember this? “That's a nice demo application you've got working on the Linux box. Now spend ten times the money and twenty times the work to do it for real.”

No matter how long it took, the “real” version on a proprietary platform somehow never seemed to have the stability, performance or maintainability of the version you put together with Perl, Python or PHP. The good news is that now, even for the most conservative employers or clients, you no longer have to redo your Linux projects on an approved platform.

The tools you have been using to build Web sites that aren't business-critical now are seeing action in core business apps at more and more companies.

There's always someone who says that you can't possibly develop business apps on that—it doesn't have feature X. Soon, though, someone does write feature X for the new platform, or it turns out that you don't need feature X to do business apps anyway. Then new projects that could have gone with the legacy platform start going to the new one.

That's what's happening right now with the all-free, all-open source LAMP platform, consisting of Linux, Apache, MySQL and the “P” languages—Perl, Python and PHP.

Giovanni Organtini and Luciano M. Barone cover one large success story on page 36. Their LAMP-based work-flow management system, used in assembling a particle physics instrument with 500,000 parts, has replaced a proprietary system. The new system cuts CPU and memory loads, improves performance and, most important, slashes the amount of time that operators spend interacting with the system, giving them more time to work on the product.

On page 50, Tom Adelstein has some encouraging news: the LAMP platform also is the basis of US government IT projects at the Navy, the Department of Labor and other agencies. He reports that state and local governments are succeeding with Linux too. Selling to the government is hard, but the consulting firm gOSapps LLC has done more than 500 apps for 400 government bodies. Fewer of your tax dollars are being wasted on lock-in, but there's still work to be done.

Doc Searls has been following IT's biggest behind-the-scenes story for a year now. Customers are using the power of Linux and other open-source software to take control of their own technology decisions. Acronym alphabet soup and projected releases in 2005 or 2006 might make for entertaining reading, but when you've got a project to do, it's time to break out the tools that give you freedom. Doc reports on Linux successes at Morgan Stanley, Ticketmaster and Ernie Ball, on page 48.

Customer-facing Web sites have long taken advantage of Linux's performance, flexibility and low total cost of ownership. The record industry, however, hasn't been on the best of terms with the Web. Time to start over. On page 42, John Buckman explains how he is running a record company that treats both the audience and the artists with respect, not with Digital Rights Management or other such indignities. I'm listening to an album I bought from the site right now.

Whatever your business or your pleasure, there's something for you in this issue. It's not all about the Web, either. With the article by Brett Schwarz on page 72, you can build a custom phone system that saves money, integrates voice over IP and even gives you a pop-up warning of special callers. Have a productive and successful month, and see you next time.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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