Linux wasn't a box-office hit with Regal Entertainment Group, the country's largest theater owner with $2.5 billion in 2004 revenue. It's switching from open-source Linux to Microsoft Windows.
The company is undergoing a major IT overhaul to develop a common point-of-service application that can support box-office and food and beverage sales, as well as new customer-service kiosks. Part of this overhaul, expected to save the company $10 million over the next five years, includes swapping out as many as 10,000 IBM point-of-service terminals running Red Hat Linux with newer Fujitsu touch-screen devices and kiosks running Windows XP Embedded.
Where did Linux go wrong? The company tried to provide its own support for the computerized terminals, which are spread out across about 560 locations, but it didn't have the expertise to handle the job. "We didn't have Linux as a skill set," says Regal chief technology officer Cliff DeYoung.
Regal's decision last year to replace its point-of-service systems and add kiosks to accommodate new services provided an opportunity to re-evaluate Linux. Regal already had begun to migrate its corporate IT infrastructure to Microsoft products, replacing Novell Netware and GroupWise with Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003. The Windows environment will be easier to manage remotely because the company will use HP OpenView Radia tools to manage terminals the same way it does servers and desktops. Regal plans to support the new point-of-service systems itself, and it's more confident that it can support Windows than Linux.
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