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Linux gives the NYSE lower costs and independence

For the CIO who actually wants to earn her salary, take a close look at the NYSE's reasons for choosing Linux.

Chip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research recently speculated (and that's all it was) that Red Hat Linux "is gradually being relegated to a position of non-criticality." The implication was that Linux is not ready for mission-critical implementations, a thought so bizarre and contradicted by the facts (and by Jim Zemlin's enthusiasm) that I'm struggling to say anything more polite than "Global Equities Research is not ready for mission-critical equities analysis."

The recent news that the New York Stock Exchange is idling Unix while scaling out Linux is just one more proof point. The reasons behind the shift are illustrative of why savvy CIOs increasingly turn to open source, generally:

The New York Stock Exchange is investing heavily in x86-based Linux systems and blade servers as it builds out the NYSE Hybrid Market trading system that it launched last year. Flexibility and lower cost are among the goals. But one of the things that NYSE Euronext CIO Steve Rubinow says he most wants from the new computing architecture is technology independence.

"What we want is to be able to take advantage of technology advances when they happen," Rubinow said. "We're trying to be as independent of any technologies as we can be."

Low cost, flexibility, technology (and vendor) independence. What's not to love?

Well, it's possible that you're a CIO who doesn't want the responsibility of doing your job. You want to to offload all hard thinking to a vendor's ecosystem: buy into Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, etc. and just let them dictate your IT.

For those who believe they need to earn their living and make the difficult decisions that turn IT into a functional part of one's business, however, there are better options. Open source is one of them, of course, but it need not be the exclusive option. Sometimes a proprietary system will better fit a CIO's requirements. That's fine. But the point is that it should be the CIO who makes that decision, not the vendor.