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6/14/2004
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Fairfax County Schools Turn To Linux For Business Intelligence

The school district wants to move its Oracle database and Business Objects Crystal Enterprise business-intelligence software from Windows to Linux., and the debut of Business Objects' Crystal Enterprise 10 for Linux moved it a step closer to that goal.

Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools wants to give its teachers access to business-intelligence tools they can use to analyze their students' attendance data, grades, and test scores. The school district's plan for doing this involves moving its Oracle database and Business Objects Crystal Enterprise business-intelligence software from Windows to Linux. With the launch last week of Business Objects' Crystal Enterprise 10 for Linux, Fairfax is a step closer to that goal.

The current data query, analysis, and reporting system consists of a homegrown education decision support data warehouse as well as Windows-based Oracle and Crystal Enterprise. An adequate setup for reaching 2,000 administrators and guidance counselors, says Gary Policastro, coordinator of data services for Fairfax County Public Schools. The problem is cost effectively scaling the system to accommodate an additional 18,000 users.

"We would have to buy four times the number of [Intel] servers to run Oracle on Windows as opposed to Linux," Policastro says.

Instead, since April, Fairfax has been developing a new query, analysis, and reporting system with an Oracle database and a beta version of Crystal Enterprise 10 for Linux running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. With Linux, "we can now provide the computing horsepower needed to add the new users," Policastro says.

The school district wants to deploy the new system as soon as possible, but the process is being held up by software that doesn't yet support Linux. Apos Systems' View Time Security and Dynamic Parameters software, both used in conjunction with Crystal Enterprise, don't support Linux.

Many of Business Objects' customers are increasing their investment in Linux, helped by Oracle's emphasis on the open-source operating system, says James Thomas, product marketing manager for Business Objects.

Fairfax plans to standardize all of its databases on Linux-based Intel servers, including those currently running on HP-UX and Sun Solaris. Says Policastro, "We're trying to establish consistency of OS and platform, starting in the database environment."

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