August 6, 2002

Linux comes through for New York company after 9/11

- by Tina Gasperson -
Island Computer Products (ICP) is located on the edge of Staten Island, N.Y.,
about six miles across the water from Manhattan. As a systems integrator and
reseller, the company has the biggest ISO 9001 certified configuration and
customization facility in the entire New York City area. ICP's CTO Paul Fabozzi
was working on September 11, 2001.
"I received a phone call minutes after the first plane hit. Our main office and
configuration center sits on the New York Bay and we had an unobstructed view of
the (World Trade Center) buildings on fire. I rushed down to se what was going
on ... all the other employees were scared ... those buildings were not supposed
to come down."

Fabozzi says that in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ICP got a
rush of orders for all kinds of systems. "We had customers that lost office
space in those (WTC) buildings. Many disaster recovery plans were not designed
for this kind of hit. Many of our customers were forced to bring up new offices
right away. (Those) offices need systems, and we sell systems," he says.

"We were open 24/7 for weeks following the disaster. (For example), the medical
examiner's office got hundreds of huge systems for DNA analysis. The mayor's
emergency office was also stocked with top-of-the-line systems, all new. There
were other agencies that needed new systems and additional capacity and
capability to deal with what was going on."

ICP customizes the systems in-house to the exact specifications so when the
customer receives them "the end user is instantly productive."

When the orders started flooding in post 9/11, Fabozzi and his staff realized
the mother system used to load disk images couldn't handle the added stress. "We
spent a bunch of money on a new central server, to increase our throughput. This
included a large solid state disk drive, and fiber channel cards, and a Windows
2000 server ... and a ton of RAM.

"We wanted to make sure we were getting our money's worth, so we did some bench
tests. We were disappointed when the server was getting saturated at about 25
machines loading (five gigabyte disk images) at the same time. We even added two
more processors to the Windows 2000 server, and it actually slowed down."

Fabozzi and crew went "back to the drawing board." Having been a "Unix guy" for
two decades, he decided to try Red Hat Linux and Samba on the exact same
hardware configuration, and found the power that was missing with Windows. "We
were able to get more than twice the machines online and loading before we
experienced any saturation.

"This surprised many people, but not me," says Fabozzi. "Windows is junk on top
of junk. Sure, it looks nice, and it is easy to find people who know how to use
a mouse, but when it comes down to a drag race, I put my money on Linux or Unix
every time.

"Since then we've been replacing Windows servers with more stable Linux servers.
We have even gone so far as to beta (Red Hat) Linux workstations with some lucky
customers."

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