April 7, 2002

Birkenstock runs with Turbolinux (PR)

Turbolinux writes: When Birkenstock USA launched its ecommerce site in March 2000, the site was an immediate success. Even without any advertising, traffic -- and sales -- climbed rapidly. But success brings its own challenges. It quickly became clear that the company was soon going to outgrow its single 350 MHz Pentium III server, and that it needed to plan for tremendous growth on its ecommerce site.
Birkenstock, based in Novato, Calif., is the U.S. Distributor of Germany's Birkenstock Footwear. The Web site, www.birkenstock.com, allows customers to buy the popular Birkenstock shoes directly from the company. It also serves as an ecommerce engine for many of the company's independently-owned retail outlets across the U.S.

"Since we launched it, the Web site has seen exponential growth," says Howard Lee, Birkenstock's Web Marketing Manager. "And we're now starting to do email campaigns and magazine advertising, so we're expecting more and more traffic."

Birkenstock, along with the company that built and runs its Web site, Deluxe Digital Media (DDM), of Berkeley, Calif., also had the upcoming holiday shopping season in sight. "If the online holiday season is anything like what's been projected," says Kevin Johnson, President of DDM, "we could see another 60% increase in traffic volume. That could cause real problems."

But Johnson is not worried. That's because at DDM's recommendation, Birkenstock has moved the Web site to a Turbolinux Cluster Server 6 from Turbolinux.

"Turbolinux Cluster Server 6 lets us balance the load across multiple machines," says Johnson. "That's going to be key to handling the load we expect."

DDM looked at other options, says Johnson, but Turbolinux Cluster Server 6 "just seemed to make the most sense in terms of a solid, stable solution, especially since we've chosen Linux as the operating system of choice."

Initially, the cluster consists of five machines: two cluster managers, two Web servers, and a database server. One of the Web servers also doubles as a fallback database server.

The Turbolinux Cluster Server 6 architecture, says Johnson, will let Birkenstock grow the system as needed. That's important not only because of the upcoming holiday, but also because more of the independent Birkenstock retail outlets are turning to the Web site to handle their ecommerce needs. "More than 30 Birkenstock stores are using the site already," Johnson says, "and that number is growing steadily."

Turbolinux Cluster Server 6's ability to expand as needed, and its load balancing features are important, says Johnson. But as far as Lee Middaugh, the DDM system administrator responsible for the Birkenstock site, is concerned, it's Turbolinux Cluster Server 6's fault tolerance that counts.

"Computers do go down," says Middaugh. "It's almost inevitable. But with Turbolinux Cluster Server 6, if there is a problem with one computer, the system automatically rolls its functions over to another machine. That means if a machine goes down in the middle of the night, I don't have go in and fix it right away, I can sleep. It's going to take a lot of stuff to go wrong for us to have any downtime."

To learn more about Turbolinux Cluster Server 6 go to www.turbolinux.com."

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