A Makeover in Dubai


Operating out of the enterprise-savvy desert city of Dubai, Al Waleed is a trading company whose core business processes are supported by IT. The outfit’s technology agenda is driven by two principal requirements–handling the documents, spreadsheets and presentations needed in the daily routine; and putting all this content into a CRM to ensure that it remains available and accessible throughout the organisation. Additionally, like any modern outfit, the firm maintains infrastructure that powers its website and communications.

Al Waleed’s lookout for a stable, inexpensive platform was driven by need. Although proprietary software fitted the bill perfectly on paper, it required considerable maintenance. The firm’s techies were tired of staring at the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) that popped up every few hours. Also, the scores of add-on applications that Windows ‘required’–service packs, proprietary applications and tools to defeat malware and viruses–were consuming precious bandwidth and draining the company’s coffers. Change was imminent and couldn’t be delayed.

After a variety of platforms had been tested on lab computers, it was figured that only Linux could be a viable solution for both servers and desktop systems. Nitix, a remarkable Linux flavour with a footprint of a mere 64 MB, was chosen for the servers–mainly because of the numerous automated features that it provided. End-user desktops were provided with user-friendly distributions like SUSE, Fedora, Xandros and Knoppix, along with a number of open source tools. To take care of the organisation’s content creation/management needs, OpenOffice.org and SugarCRM (an open-source content management system) were installed.

Commenting on the run so far, the technical team seemed completely satisfied with the reliability that Linux brought with it. “Two years have passed since the migration, and the downtime for our critical systems has been practically zero all this while,” shared Ramkumar K., sales manager–Al Waleed. Going a step further, the team has also set up a framework, which periodically backs up all client systems to the central Nitix server. This ensures that the company can recover seamlessly from outages, failure of hardware, software crashes, and so on. As an additional measure of caution, the servers at the company have been fitted with an IDE hot swappable USB drive that regularly backs up all critical data.

Tux has also managed to please the big bosses at Al Waleed. The company’s management is happy to have a legal and stable operating system powering its IT infrastructure. And since Linux doesn’t require you to shun dated hardware in favour of flashy new machines, the savings have been phenomenal.


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