A leading sporting goods manufacturer is switching to Linux after seeing the need to consolidate platforms among its many divisions.

Until recently, the brand divisions of adidas-Salomon Canada had independent sales forces and marketing teams with their own applications, said Paul Leone, vice-president

of IT and logistics at adidas-Salomon Canada in Concord, Ont.

The company had numerous supply chain tools which weren’t connected. It recently decided to move its Windows-based applications from Dell servers to IBM iSeries servers running the open source operating system.

Within the next six to 12 months it will implement Linux on the iSeries servers. “”The biggest reason is that being on one platform allowed for more seamless integration of applications. The second one is cost of ownership,”” he said. “”One stands to gain a lot by physically managing only one computer.””

By upgrading to a new eServer iSeries 810 server, the sports apparel and equipment maker said customers will benefit from real-time access to inventory levels, enhanced ordering processes and quicker delivery time.

Adidas-Salomon’s operational and back-end warehouse management tools as well as its customer Web portal, which enables clients to check the status of orders, will all be powered by the iSeries server.

“”We’ve been an iSeries customer for quite a few years,”” said Leone when asked whether his company had considered going with another solution. “”We were already there (with IBM). The inclusion of an integrated server was a bonus.””

Companies dependent on servers running Windows sometimes end up having to manage server farms that grow as servers are added to handle increasing capacity demands, said Barry Pow, iSeries product manager at IBM Canada in Markham, Ont.

The 810 server can simultaneously run applications on OS/400, Linux, Windows, Lotus Domino and ported Unix applications.

“”We found that we could address a lot of concerns through multi-operating system capabilities,”” Pow said.

It’s customer-facing Web tools was another part of adidas-Salomon’s plan to ramp up service, Leone said. Clients typically contact the company’s customer service representatives via telephone, he said. But by using eDeveloper software and other integration technology from Magic Software Enterprises to quickly deploy AS/400 applications onto the Web, the company is hoping to convince some clients to choose the Web over the telephone.

“”We offer (tools) to accelerate the migration of legacy applications to the Web,”” said Glenn Johnson, director of marketing at Magic Software’s Irvine, Calif.-based North American subsidiary. “”Businesses can quickly adapt current applications running on back-end systems and put them on the Web. We also provide all the security mechanisms companies would want to control access to information and to integrate supply chains.””

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