Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Harry Trott, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

State Government Leads the Way with LAMP

An online database using open source tools

Jim Willis, director of e-Government Services for the Rhode Island Office of the Secretary of State, was a consultant for the state when he implemented an online database using open source tools. The ability to use open source technologies was a condition of his hiring, and the state has benefited as a result of his leadership.

Putting Linux in Plain View

The first project Willis undertook was an online rules and regulations database available to the public and other government agencies. It was the proof that open source tools could deliver value for less. The whole project was delivered for $40,000 with Willis working alone part time for four months. Because the new online database faced the public, it was the perfect test for open source value.

Willis was promoted to director of e-Government after the next election of a new Secretary of State, and he took on the role of advising other agencies on the use of open source. A high-level member of the new secretary's staff was well versed in open source, and encouraged a more open attitude toward Willis' proposals. A trend of working to improve efficiency in IT has also worked in favor of open source adoption.

The LAMP Development Model

A major trend has emerged in Internet development utilizing four open source tools or platforms: Linux for the operating system; Apache for the Web server; MySQL for the database; and PHP, Perl, or Python for the custom code (LAMP). Willis used these tools for the rules and regulations database and was able to complete the project in less time than other development models would have allowed.

Willis has been consistently pleased with the performance of the MySQL database. It is running on a Dell server with Red Hat preinstalled, with almost perfect uptime. MySQL was also included in the Red Hat installation. Agencies use a custom PHP form to upload their regulation files in PDF format. Willis was already familiar with PHP, so it was a natural choice. Some freely available Perl code was adapted to provide certain functions as well, but the vast majority of development occurred using PHP.

A big advantage of open source is that help is easier to find. Willis recommends developing staff who are able to find the solutions to problems because no one has memorized how to handle every situation. You just have to know where to look. "I've called Red Hat for support just once, when I was getting started. Google is really the first line of support."

Saving Time Is More Important Than Saving Money

After his initial success with the rules and regulations online database, Willis looked for other ways to use open source software. He started by replacing an Exchange server with Courier IMAP and QMail on Linux, and replacing Outlook with SquirrelMail, a Web-based e-mail client. Users were having trouble with Outlook, and his staff was spending too much time supporting it. Willis picked the e-mail system as a good migration candidate because he knew it would save both money and time. It took Willis' team two days to migrate the mail server. They saved money in licensing costs by replacing Windows and Microsoft Exchange, but the biggest benefit has been the free time to devote to other projects. Willis says that he saves between 6–10 hours per week of support time with the new system. The reliability of open source software on Linux is allowing him to pursue other projects that will benefit the public.

Cost is still an issue, of course. Before starting on any migration to open source, Willis does an informal analysis to find out how much it will save the state. In his case, it's sufficient justification to proceed.

Web Servers and Databases

The next step was to start migrating Web servers and database servers. Willis had several Microsoft IIS servers that needed to be upgraded. By now, his staff was familiar with Apache, so they used Linux and Apache as a replacement for Windows and IIS. There was one glitch, however. They had previously written Active Server Pages that needed to be converted to PHP and Perl.

According to Willis, when you have applications "write" code for you, rather than code by hand, it's hard to know later what you've done. This made it somewhat difficult to convert the applications. They tried some conversion tools, such as asp2php. It worked sometimes, but Willis found that it was easier to rewrite the applications. Most of them were just database query scripts, which were easy to rewrite, and took about 3–4 days per script. All of the servers that Willis' team has converted have paid for themselves already.

Advice for Other States

Now other states are asking Jim Willis for advice in adopting open source. His advice for getting started is to take on a small migration project first to prove to colleagues that it will work. "Don't pick something critical for the first project.

Pick a server that provides an important service, though, that people will be able to see in action."

He generally plans a migration when one of two things happen: he is tired of always supporting a problem system, or he needs to purchase an upgrade.

Open Source Software Utilized

The State of Rhode Island Secretary of State's office saves 6–10 hours per week of support time with a migration to Linux and a Web-based e-mail solution, instead of Microsoft Exchange and Outlook.

Open source products used are:

  • Red Hat Linux
  • Apache Web server
  • MySQL database
  • PHP Web scripting language
  • Courier IMAP, QMail
  • SquirrelMail

More Stories By Maria Winslow

Maria Winslow is the author of The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source, available at http://www.lulu.com/practicalGuide and can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry’s single source for the cloud. Fusion’s advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...