I didn’t expect to get a response to my Linux for Travel Systems article so quickly, but it’s clear that Robert Scoble either missed the point or has decided to fabricate a great deal of my argument to suit his own:

Matthew makes a mistake, though. He tries to use this as an example of how a company has fired Microsoft. Instead, though, you need to look at what Travelocity used before. Unix. So, what Travelocity really decided was to replace its Unix-based systems with Linux.

In this case, Robert is the one who has made a mistake.  Nowhere in my article did I even mention “firing Microsoft”.  In fact, the only reference to Microsoft in my article is referring to Robert’s role as evangelist.  My goal was simply to match his “Windows Success Story” with a story of how a company evaluated its options and came up with the conclusion Linux Works Better For Them.

This is where Robert believes his “switch story” is more convincing:

My Morton Thiokol example was more of a real win. Why? Because Morton Thiokol switched from Unix to Windows (that’s a real jump over the fence – Unix to Linux isn’t as big a difference as Unix to Windows).

I’m finding it hard to give this point any credit for two reasons:

  1. Robert hadn’t positioned his article as a Unix to Windows switch.  In fact, I have no idea what really went on at Morton Thiokol.  Looking back at Robert’s previous two mentions of the company, this is the most information I can get out of it:

    On the other hand, ask yourself why no one has written about Morton Thiokol lately. They just changed computer systems for their engineers.

    “Changed computer systems,” eh?  From what to what?  I can assume that the “to what” part of that is Windows, but nowhere in this article does he mention that it was from something else.  They could have been running AutoCAD on Windows ‘95 for all we know.  For the record, I have seen people run those two together.

  2. In the original case study I referenced, we don’t know what the architecture history of Travelocity was.  At the time, I was positioning the story only as one in which Linux was chosen over other alternatives.  I did manage to dig up another article that describes them switching from C++/SGI to Java/Linux.  The Unix-to-Java/Linux switch is not any less valid than Robert’s Unix-to-Windows switch.  I would consider Java to be a platform of its own and the change to it significant.  If you read the other article describing the switch, you can see how they switched to Apache Tomcat (a Java Enterprise hosting environment) with Struts (a web-page rendering environment).  That’s not a trivial change, Robert!

So you can see, my Travelocity switch story is just as valid as Robert’s Morton Thiokol story.  Either switch would be a major undertaking for any organization.  Switching from Unix to Linux, however, is a win for Linux (and a win for Open Source at the same time).  You can’t discount this switch just because both operating systems end in the letter “x”.

If you look at the stories and how they would affect a normal working-class Joe, you’d probably find that the Travelocity story has greater influence.  Not everyone flies to the moon, but pretty much everyone flies between cities at some point in their life.  Linux now helps you get your ticket cheaper and faster.

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