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At Orbitz, Linux Delivers Double the Performance At One-Tenth the Cost

While controversy surrounding Linux has left some companies skittish, online travel agency Orbitz Inc. is more committed than ever to the open-source operating system that powers the company's search engine for low-priced airline tickets.

Privately held Chicago-based Orbitz uses more than 750 Linux-on-Intel Compaq computers in its data center to download fares, service search requests and run the company's booking engine. In the fall, Orbitz migrated its web applications running on Sun Microsystems' Enterprise 4500 servers to Compaq machines. The migration meant moving the software from Solaris running on 168 Sparc processors to Linux running on 100 Intel chips.

Dumping the leased Sun machines brought double the performance at a tenth of the cost, said Leon Chism, chief Internet architect for Orbitz.

"Our leases were coming up for the E4500s and we were looking at an ungodly amount of money to renew those leases," Chism said. "You have to look for every opportunity you can find to squeeze out inefficiencies and reduce your costs."

Indeed, Orbitz, Expedia Inc., Travelocity and others are competing in an industry where price is everything. Consumers look for the lowest cost for airline tickets -- period. There's little, if any, brand loyalty, analysts say.

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