April 20, 2006

How big was Go Daddy's move from Linux to Windows?

Author: Jay Lyman

Microsoft makes it sound like the big daddy of server migrations, but GoDaddy.com's move from Linux to Windows isn't exactly the glowing endorsement Microsoft makes it out to be.

The approximately 4.5 million domains that moved are, after all, inactive parked domains -- meaning few people are pointing their browsers at them. As for domains that actually do get Web traffic, plenty of those still remain on Linux at GoDaddy.com, something Microsoft failed to mention in its press release last month touting the domain transfer.

"It was one relatively small technology migration we did for several reasons, and it certainly didn't represent a wholesale change in our philosophy of heterogeneity and open source community," says Go Daddy Group President and COO Warren Adelman.

The obvious question is, did Microsoft pay Go Daddy or offer any incentive to move its parked domains to Windows? Adelman declined to clear up that issue one way or the other. "We can't discuss the technical aspects of our industry relationships."

News of Go Daddy's move to Windows brought some criticism from Linux supporters and Microsoft foes, including Go Daddy customers threatening to leave the company as a result. Adelman, who generally downplayed the move as a simple "technology refresh," says the news of the migration may have been misunderstood by some in the open source community.

"I think there was a little confusion in the open source world," he says. "This was for one particular part of our infrastructure for parked domains. We are totally committed to a heterogeneous environment. It was just one piece of infrastructure." Adelman also says the reference to "parked domains" may have been missed by people who "read what they want to read."

They could also have been thrown off by Microsoft's headline for the release: "GoDaddy.com to Migrate Entire Hostname Portfolio Onto Microsoft Solution for Windows-Based Hosting."

Adelman declined to indicate how many of his company's hosted domains are still supported by Linux, but stressed that Go Daddy continues to rely on Linux and Apache Web servers for much its 13.1 million-and-growing stock of total domains.

"Certainly Linux running Apache is an integral part of what we do here at Go Daddy," he says. "We look at each particular piece of infrastructure or offering and look at what makes the most sense from a technology standpoint. It really depends on the particular application and piece of infrastructure."

So why the actual switch from Linux to Windows, giving Microsoft the opportunity to claim itself best for inactive Web sites? Adelman explains Go Daddy was in the process of making decisions as it was re-writing code and assessing ongoing projects, evaluating technologies based on factors such as operational support and amount of coding required. "We were looking at a technology refresh, and we decided to move in that direction. It was something that happened in the course of what we do when we look at areas to change and improve."

While the move to park sites with Windows, and Microsoft's press release on the matter, stirred some discussion, Adelman indicates the hosting company has not suffered from it at all. "There hasn't been any real backlash. There absolutely hasn't," he says. "I think people did have concerns, but once they talked to us and really understood what was going on, they didn't act on it."

Adelman echoes Go Daddy CEO and founder Bob Parsons, who highlighted the company's support for the open source software and communities it uses. Go Daddy this week announced a $10,000 donation to the OpenSSH project, used extensively by Go Daddy, and described by Parsons as "integral to online security."

Adelman also refers to Go Daddy's ongoing offer of free SSL certificates to legitimate open source projects, which began a year ago. "We continue to offer those certificates to open source projects free."

"We're committed to the open source community and to using open source tools," he says.


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