June 13, 2001

WhiteCross moves to Linux

Author: JT Smith

- By Dan Berkes-
Add another convert to the enterprise tote board; this time it's White Cross Systems Ltd. The Web site data analysis and reporting provider is moving its massively parallel processing platform away from LynxOS and over to Linux.UK-based WhiteCross provides hosted site traffic and analysis reporting for corporations through a service it markets under the name WebAnalytics. Essentially, the service siphons raw Web log data from its clients, and combines it with that company's customer data, which might include demographics, registration information, or purchasing history. The numbers are crunched according to the client's need, and an easily-understandable report is then produced to make sense of it all.

Since introducing the service several years ago, WX/DES has chugged along satisfactorily on LynxOS. All that is about to change, however, as the company moves its services over to its very own custom Linux distribution.

While WhiteCross will likely save a few dollars with its new Linux systems, the move wasn't prompted by any executive suite navel gazing.

"Our technical staff proposed the change for the sake of easier administration and customization," says John Thompson, v.p. of global marketing for WhiteCross. "But we do expect to see some bit of performance improvement as a result."

The brains behind WebAnalytics are the Data Exploration Server (WX/DES), described as a massively parallel processing platform. Through this system, WhiteCross can process -- at minimum speed -- more than 60 million page views per day. That means the company can churn out a report for one of its large clients like Sprint or British Airways in less than an hour.

Thompson describes the hardware end of the systems as traditional rack-mounted servers, powered by one or more AMD K6 processors -- the exact configuration is left up to the needs and desires of client companies. Those dedicated servers are maintained at one of two data centers owned and operated by WhiteCross -- one in San Francisco, the other in Bracknell, in the United Kingdom.

Because all the gory technical stuff is handled by the WhiteCross staff within its own data centers, most customers didn't need to take notice of the change. Thompson said that the feedback he has received from customers regarding the Linux switchover has been positive.

If anything, WhiteCross' new Open Source direction meshes well with the systems their customers already use: When asked if there was any one Web server in particular his clients preferred, Thompson replied: "Apache, definitely Apache."


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