Although the economy remains uncertain, U.S. retail activity rose this holiday season. Figures from the MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which tracks all forms of payment, show retail sales rose 3.6 percent for Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with the same period last year. In the midst of gift return season, retailers who need to expand their IT capacity during the holidays should look to Linux.
Linux is an open source operating system that runs on a variety of hardware platforms. For retailers, it offers increased reliability, lower costs and greater security.
"Retailers need to operate around the clock during busy seasons with 24/7 access to sales records and support for customers, sales staff and partners," said Meike Chabowski, product marketing manager at Novell. "Linux enables retailers to deploy additional servers and point of service (POS) devices easily and cost-effectively while maintaining the level of performance and reliability necessary to surpass their business goals."
Continuous uptime is critical in a retail environment. Known for its high availability, Linux has proven capable of staying up for years at a time. For many retailers, Microsoft Windows' security vulnerabilities are a serious concern. Linux is an established choice for business computing, and provides stronger security to prevent data loss and downtime. Because it is open source software backed by leading IT providers such as IBM, HP and Intel, many developers are working on it all the time, allowing bugs and security flaws to be detected and fixed more quickly than with proprietary operating systems.
In addition to benefiting from lower capital costs, retailers who switch to Linux can also experience lower operating costs. Linux requires less memory on POS devices and lower-end servers in the back room, compared to Windows, reducing the hardware investment required. Linux can also be more power efficient than older legacy operating systems, saving ongoing expenses. Linux is designed to run on all types of hardware platforms, and it scales from older hardware to the latest systems. You can even re-purpose old machines as POS servers, thus extending the life of your existing infrastructure.
Among the retailers currently running on Linux this holiday season:
Office Depot: As a large global retailer, Office Depot needed to control costs and reduce complexity by standardizing its IT environment. Simplifying its IT environment with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has helped Office Depot reduce IT costs, while maintaining superior stability and performance. The company estimates that its Linux investment paid for itself in the first year of operation.
La Curacao: On its previous operating system, the Southwestern department chain experienced unplanned downtime, often lasting up to four hours. La Curacao needed higher availability from its mission-critical systems to support its 10 stores in California and Arizona. After implementing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, La Curacao's stores continue to operate without interruption, even in December when volume increases by 500 percent.
National Vision: One of the country's largest optical retailers, National Vision chose SUSE Linux Enterprise for its mission-critical computing to stabilize and manage its network of 5,000 POS devices. As the retailer expands to 40 new stores, it depends on Linux to keep its in-store systems updated and running seamlessly.
Sherwin-Williams: The nation's largest specialty retailer of paint, stains, coatings, wall coverings and sundry items chose SUSE Linux Enterprise to anchor its POS systems, specifically store multi-function desktop/registers and in-store servers.
National retailers are reaping the benefits of Linux. For more information on Linux in retail, visit Linux Enteprise Point of Service.