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Linux Insights

Linux Insights covers real world uses of Linux within the Enterprise. Today we interview Cody Maher, CEO of Lead Commerce.

Just a few years ago it was the norm for startup companies to purchase expensive hardware and software products in order to begin operations. Today, this same need is being handled by the cloud; a term coined by Apple. So what has changed? Obviously, the needs are still the same, namely: word processing, a website, reliable email synchronized with a mobile phone, fax machine, direct office telephone number for the office, and more. Just 5 years ago, business owners likely would have purchased computers from Dell, phones from Blackberry, Microsoft Office, a server or Exchange Server for corporate email, a server for the website, a telephone system by Cisco, and the list goes on and on -- along with the price tag and expenses.

Fast forward to today. You can literally get all of this for free or pennies a day. If your business needs computers you can purchase a Google Chrome Laptop for less that $200.00. Your corporate email which synchronizes with your smartphone can be run using Google Apps for Business for $5 per user which also provides Spreadsheets, Word Processing, Presentation, Drawing, all packed into a nicely weaved centralized Drive for your entire company to access and collaborate in. Your fax is now virtual using eFax, and, have I mentioned to this point that buying servers in not required for any of these items?

These services all have one thing in common. They all use Linux. Linux has allowed so many amazing companies to offer their products and services at little to no cost. It has also birthed a major swing in how businesses run their operations with the concepts of the cloud or as it used to be referred to software-as-a-service (SAAS). Either way, Linux has had a major hand in lowering the total cost of ownership for your startups as well as legacy businesses who are converting over to this new type of architecture.

Linux has not only impacted these very basic areas of operations but also the more specific needs of companies, namely ecommerce. Over the last few years there have been a handful of companies that have begun to use Linux to offer an entire software package to assist small business owners in running an online ecommerce website. Some of these companies include Volusion.com, BigCommerce and Lead Commerce. All three of these major ecommerce software companies use a flavor of Linux to run their backbone.

We sat down with CEO of Lead Commerce, Cody Maher for a quick Q&A on this new exciting industry and what his company is doing with Linux.

1) Cody, tell us a little bit about Lead Commerce and how Linux is playing a part in your product offering?

We started developing our ecommerce software about three years ago. It’s now in its fourth generation and Linux is a big part of that package. Our ecommerce hosting is managed by Rackspace. Specifically, we run RedHat Enterprise 6 on Dell Poweredge servers at Rackspace, but are also exploring Ubuntu as a possible switch once we have gone through all of our PCI compliance testing and auditing. Additionally, we are using Ubuntu for our internal development servers. I would also say that about 80% of Lead Commerce employees are using Ubuntu for their desktop machines and laptops as well which obviously has replaced Windows.

2) Why did you choose to go with Linux for Lead Commerce versus Microsoft Windows?

Obviously certain flavors of Linux are free, however, I would not say cost was the only factor. We simply felt more comfortable scaling our business on the Linux operating system versus Windows. Our language also played a big part in that decision as well as we run a LAMP stack so that solidified it. I recently read that Microsoft is now allowing native PHP to run on their boxes, but I have no desire to switch at this point.

3) What does the future hold for your business and how will Linux be a part of it?

Well as I mentioned earlier, we have our offices running Ubuntu on desktops and laptops, we continue to test Ubuntu and other flavors of Linux for our ecommerce software (but again we are running on Redhat already); ultimately I don’t see us using less of Linux. It will only become more prevalent and a bigger part of our business over time.

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A Few Things To Consider Before Switching Your Business To Linux

Is your server using a Windows or Linux operating system? Kama Software products provide the best IT solutions for common problems like file corruption and backups. The company has an international clientele, and has worked with leading businesses using Windows or Linux OSes in all parts of the world.

Linux Operating System Issues

Linux is an operating system that evolved from basic Unix. As an open source application, however, it has benefited from the input of many talented software engineers, allowing it to expand into new directions.

Linux is not perfect. Relatively few Linux drivers exist for commonly used pieces of hardware like printers, scanners and all-in-one imaging applications. Although Linux functionality is more easily integrated into other systems like Windows, businesses that have been climbing on the Linux bandwagon want the potential of even closer collaboration.

There are also far fewer qualified Linux technicians and administrators than demand calls for. This may be a reflection of the fact that Linux is open code and so advanced certification is a recent development.

Finally, Linux is distributed in at least five different forms, which fragments the potential market. The last important Linux distribution was Debian Linux, on which Ubuntu is based. In 2010, Oracle announced it was releasing its own Linux distribution. So far, however, Oracle Linux hasn't really caught on.

The best IT practices can be brought to bear on some of these Linux issues. Others will disappear over time as the business community increasingly commits to Linux.