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Linux On The Mainframe Delivers The Mail

Software lets companies make use of idle mainframe capacity
For most companies, E-mail has become an essential tool for conducting business. But the cost of providing every employee with E-mail can be high, especially when you add the costs associated with operating and managing a group of E-mail servers. That's where Bynari Inc. sees opportunity for a Linux-based E-mail system on a mainframe.

The potential cost savings convinced Winnebago Industries Inc. in Forest City, Iowa, to sign as Bynari's first customer. The recreational-vehicle manufacturer last week said it will replace an IBM xSeries Intel server running Novell NetWare and Microsoft Mail and install Bynari on a Linux partition on its mainframe to give E-mail to 1,000 employees.

Winnebago needed an E-mail upgrade because of problems with scheduling, calendaring, and corruption of attachments, says Dave Ennen, the company's technical support manager. But upgrading to Microsoft Exchange or Novell GroupWise would cost Winnebago about $100,000, he says.

Pricing E-Mail"We expect Bynari Insight Server to cost a third or even a quarter of that," Ennen says, because Winnebago will be able to make use of excess capacity on the company's IBM Multiprise 3000 mainframe. "The mainframe is our industrial-strength system that stays up, and that's where our expertise is."

Bynari's E-mail software has another benefit: Employees can continue to use the Microsoft Outlook E-mail client.

According to a study prepared by Equant, a large international data networking company, using Microsoft software on Intel servers is much less expensive than buying a new mainframe to provide E-mail for companies with fewer than 25,000 users. But for companies like Winnebago that have idle mainframe capacity, adding E-mail software can be a low-cost alternative.

Companies can save time and money by running E-mail on Linux on a mainframe partition, says Aberdeen Group analyst Bill Claybrook. "You can run 2,000 or 3,000 Linux instances on the mainframe," he says. "Instead of 50 or 60 Windows NT or Windows 2000 servers, companies can support all those Outlook users on the mainframe easily."

The Bynari Insight Server starts at $25,995 for 1,500 users.