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Linux Business The Almighty Buck

Japan To Do Payroll On Linux 343

Posted by timothy
from the upstart-operating-system dept.
strannik writes "Yahoo/Reuters is reporting that the The Japanese Government will use Linux for it's payroll system. Fujitsu LTD, IBM Japan LTD and OKI Electronic Industry Co. will develop the system by March of 2004. The new system is expected to halve operating costs (to about 350 Billion Yen a year)."
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Japan To Do Payroll On Linux

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  • k3wl (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:05PM (#6401592)
    Don't miss the battle of the century! David versus Goliath all over again as we watch SCO vs Japan! Don't miss this apocalyptical match, and it's only on paaay per viewww!
    • Re:k3wl (Score:2, Funny)

      by Chundra (189402)
      Wouldn't that be Godzilla vs. SCOthra?
    • Re:k3wl (Score:2, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170) *
      Don't miss the battle of the century! David versus Goliath all over again as we watch SCO vs Japan! Don't miss this apocalyptical match, and it's only on paaay per viewww!

      Just so long as there's no sneak attack on Santa Cruz (as I live there), although, there might have been a mini-sub paddling around out in the Monterey Bay yesterday, which could explain THIS! [santacruzsentinel.com]

  • By "Operating Costs" does that include the salary of the admins? Windows admins make a lot less than *nix admins (rightly so), so is paying more to the Linux admins included in their estimates?

    Aside from that point, I don't know who would trust Microsoft enough to put their confidential financial information, especially payroll, on Windows...
    • by mjmalone (677326) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:17PM (#6401720) Homepage
      It doesn't say in the article that they have been running windows in the past. Just that Microsoft wanted them to use it. Maybe they are already running some *nix variation and already have a knowledgable staff, mass layoffs and new hires would probably cost as much the added expense of nix admins... at least for the short term.
    • by KillerHamster (645942) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:21PM (#6401756) Homepage

      Windows admins make a lot less than *nix admins

      But you need fewer admins to maintain the same number of machines when they are running *nix.

    • by markv242 (622209) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:34PM (#6401868)
      Where are these savings coming from? Surely not entirely from switching to Linux.

      I'd be willing to wager that most of the cost savings will be in manpower, usability, etc, of the home-built software itself. Additionally, unless they're deploying Linux on the exact same hardware that their old system was running on, you can't credit Linux with the operating cost savings.

      For example, let's say that they were running the old payroll system on some cluster of Pentium 2 or Pentium 3 machines. Those machines supported X concurrent users. With today's hardware, you can support X concurrent users with half the amount of hardware. Remove half the hardware, and you can potentially remove half your support resources. Congratulations, you've halved your operating costs.

      I think "using Linux" is just a side-note to this story. Systems evolve, and get easier to use, more powerful, and require less support, regardless of which operating system they're using.

      • A bit naive (Score:3, Insightful)

        The biggest cost savings come from systems architecture reorganisation. If you can architect your systems so that they require only log(N) support rather than N support people per box then you can make some very large savings.

        You don't necesssarily cut your costs in half by reducing the number of systems or even staff by half.

        It's very easy to architect Linux systems to require just log(N) support people, it's far far more difficult to architect Windows the same way.

        So you've got to get the architecture
  • Would that make Japan Darl McBride's next stop on his 2003 FUD World Tour?
  • Java? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:07PM (#6401608) Homepage
    I'm always wondering why doesn't people use Java for such large developments... If tomorrow Linux is declared illegal because of the SCO suit (very unlikely though), you just reinstall FreeBSD and keep on going.

    Multi-platform is an invaluable freedom on such projects where deployment and operating costs are so high
    • Re:Java? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BiteMeFanboy (680905)
      Yes. The same could be said for Scheme, Lisp, Perl, and quite a number of other languages, many of which are better for large applications than Java.
      • That is correct. I guess the point is: Who cares which OS??

        When a better one will pop up, we'll just switch and everything will still work fine...
    • Re:Java? (Score:2, Interesting)

      If tomorrow Linux is declared illegal because of the SCO suit

      You forget that Japan also has to recognize that it's illegal. If I were Japan, I'd tell SCO to shove their FUD and their laws up their collective ass. But, if I were Japan, I'd have a lot more to worry about then just SCO...
      • But, if I were Japan, I'd have a lot more to worry about then just SCO
        Like not speaking Japanese?
      • Not to mention if Linux were declared illegal, whats to stop Java from becoming illegal? I would think C would be the language of choice due to the number of compilers available AND its portable nature.

        C on BSD and C on Linux are very compatible if you don't do anything silly like read directly from /proc. Notice you could screw up portable Java in the same non-portable way.
    • Re:Java? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Surak (18578) * <surakNO@SPAMmailblocks.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:19PM (#6401738) Homepage Journal
      Ya know, Java is not the only cross-platform development language on the planet.

      First off, believe it or not, ANSI C is pretty darned portable, especially across *nixes. Think how how many Linux code written in C ports easily to *BSD, Solaris, AIX, etc. It's not 100% cross-platform, but it's close enough for projects that need native compiled code.

      Now, for a massive payroll system, which is basically a database, native compiled code isn't strictly necessary. It's a database, and probably needs a client/server architecture. Database lookups are the bottleneck, on the client, so you *could* do a lot of stuff. You could make it web based, for instance, and use Apache, PostgreSQL, and PHP or Perl for instance. If you want a gui, you could do Python/GTK, for instance. All of this stuff is cross-platform, Java isn't the ONLY solution.
      • Re:Java? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:33PM (#6401847) Homepage
        First off, believe it or not, ANSI C is pretty darned portable

        You've said it! You have to port C code!! Java is cross-platform by design, not portable.

        On the other hand, porting C code is just a matter of making sure the library you use on OS A is also ported on OS B. For example porting an X app on windows is not possible (well, you can rewrite your GUI layer, but I don't call that a "portable" app).

        With Java, the standard libraries are way more usefull than the common set of C libraries... (especially if you take the common set between *nix and windows ;-))

        For the PHP/Python/Java/$LANGUAGE I don't really care. But please don't tell me C is portable. Hello world compile on any language. As soon as you start fancy stuff, you're bounded by the library you're using.
        • Re:Java? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Surak (18578) * <surakNO@SPAMmailblocks.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:40PM (#6401924) Homepage Journal
          Yes, C is portable. Java is cross-platform. Difference, and not a subtle one either.

          But as far cross platfor:

          PHP, Python, Perl, heck they could just about write it in XUL! These are ALL cross-platform. From Macs, to Windows to *BSD to Linux.

          I'm sorry, I'm just sick of the Java guys always saying "Why don't they just write it in Java!" as if Java were the only cross-platform language anyone would ever consider using.

          You have to look at the requirements of the project before you can even begin to say that you could code it in Java, or C, or any language. Requirements drive the design. They drive the language choice. They drive the platform(s) used. They drive everything. You don't pick Java just 'cause it's "cool."

      • Re:Java? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Detritus (11846)
        Why on Earth would you use an unsafe systems programming language like C for a payroll application?

        There are languages designed for business applications, like COBOL.

    • You should know that BSD suffered a case like this (though it wasn't filled with such utter BS from a small and overly obnoxious company that does literally nothing productive), and the result was not that BSD became illegal, the offending parts of the code were simply taken out, and BSD remained free.

      If this is to happen to Linux(however unlikely), then the same thing will happen. And even if worst comes to worst, all businesses will have to pay SCO, but it still will not be illegal.

    • What a troll! How is this different if the application was written in C, or C++, or Python, or any other language with a portable (+POSIX) standard?

      And why on earth would Linux be declared 'illegal'? It isn't merely unlikely, it is not concievable. Even if SCO won their suit against IBM (unlikely), and even if some offending code was shown to be in the mainstream Linux kernel (even more unlikely), then the absolute worst that can happen is that the offending code gets 'rolled back' to before IBM's invo

    • First of all, how does the language used for the system relate to this discussion? Aren't we talking about the OS?

      And secondly, there are a lot of languages that are more open that Java. Sun could do a lot of damage to the Java community if they decided to not release any specs or improve Java at all. Similarly to Linux being "declared illegal".

    • I can't speak for the other BSDs, but under FreeBSD, Java is in utter shambles. Anything beyond the 1.1 JDK requires you to run the JDK under FreeBSD's linux compatibility layer, which does two things: eat up a whole lot more RAM than it needs, and slows things down, noticeably under load. The FreeBSD group needs to approach Sun and ask them for a native license-- I have to believe that a back-port from Mac OS X won't be that difficult.

      Besides, where in the article did it mention the language? Since IB

    • Re:Java? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Xerithane (13482) <xerithane&nerdfarm,org> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:56PM (#6402055) Homepage Journal
      I'm always wondering why doesn't people use Java for such large developments... If tomorrow Linux is declared illegal because of the SCO suit (very unlikely though), you just reinstall FreeBSD and keep on going.


      And this is why students and people without professional experience don't make large scale business solutions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:07PM (#6401618)
    Japanese civil servants will be expected to work for free.
    • by blibbleblobble (526872) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:54PM (#6402495)
      "In keeping with new Linux system, japanese civil servants will be expected to work for free."

      Uhh, right. And in keeping with the new Windows system, UK civil servants will provide their employers with a 16-page EELA giving them permission to ransack the government buildings. Those who do come into work will be expected to dress in gay bright colours, and respond... very... slowly... to anybody who asks them to do stuff.

  • by nother_nix_hacker (596961) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:08PM (#6401622)
    Duh, who cares if Linux is making it big in the real world, gaining coroperate sponsorship thus developing quickly into a mature and usable system... what we all want is transparent windows!
  • half (Score:5, Funny)

    by selderrr (523988) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:08PM (#6401623) Journal
    The new system is expected to halve operating costs

    aaah, so they move from 32 to 64 bit then ?
    (ducks for cover)
  • Darl's trip (Score:4, Funny)

    by burgburgburg (574866) <<moc.liame> <ta> <60neksilps>> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:08PM (#6401624)
    I guess that Darl's trip [yahoo.com] wasn't particularly persuasive after all. I wonder why.
    • by Lane.exe (672783) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:13PM (#6401674) Homepage
      Honorable Darl McBride, Emperor of Evil Empire SCO,
      We regret to inform you that your crass and stupid public remarks regarding the honored and revered Rinux operating system have deeply offended our nation and further disgraced yourself. Here is your tanto. Your retainer Chris Sontag will be standing by with katana to further help you complete your ritual suicide.

      Sincerery,
      Japan

  • Upstart? (Score:4, Informative)

    by HanClinto (621615) <hanclintoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:08PM (#6401626)
    "For the past year, an intense turf battle between Microsoft and vendors of the upstart Linux has been raging as more corporations and government agencies turn to Linux software to run their desktop and network computer systems to cut costs."

    Dictionary.com:
    ntr.v. upstarted, upstarting, upstarts (p-stärt)
    To spring or start up suddenly.

    The banner-ad on the right side of my screen reading that article was the Oracle/Unbreakable Penguin ad. Granted Linux has been gaining ground quickly as-of-late, but it's not exactly been an upstart.
  • by phunhippy (86447) * <zavoid@gmail . c om> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:08PM (#6401627) Journal
    350,000,000,000.00 JPY Japan Yen = 2,974,249,477.00 USD United States Dollars

    Can someone explain how they will save nearly 3 billion dollars by using Linux?

    MS licenses can't cost that much!!! (really!)
  • What does this mean? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by locarecords.com (601843) <david@NOspam.locarecords.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:08PM (#6401628) Homepage Journal
    I think clearly there is some serious thinking going on in Government circles about Open Source and technology projects. Has anybody looked at the EU guidelines [infonomics.nl]? They've even set up a special body to promote open and interoperable stuff [cordis.lu] across the EU... More stuff [conecta.it]
  • $300mil/yr? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Since when does a payroll system require $300 million a year to MAINTIAN?

    Must be like one of those $500 screwdriver type deals the US Govt likes to pull.

    • Re:$300mil/yr? (Score:4, Informative)

      by captain_craptacular (580116) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:20PM (#6401747)
      First of all I believe they're saving somewhere near 3 billion dollars...

      Secondly I work for a department that supports a payroll system for about 10k Employees and I'd guess that for Developers alone we shell out about $250k a year to support the system. And this isn't even a home-rolled system, we're talking maintenance of a system that we pay for. With all liscenses included and hardware costs, I'm sure we're well over $500,000 a year.

      Thats for 10k Employees, how many employees does the Japanese Govt. have?
    • Since when does a payroll system require $300 million a year to MAINTIAN?

      Actually about $3 billion: and this is apparently half current costs. I know computer system costs in Japan are high, but this does seem a bit excessive. If true, today's costs are about $6 billion to process the payroll of 800,000 employees or in the region of $7,500 per year per employee!

  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:13PM (#6401675) Homepage
    Is it possible for SCO to sue a country?
    • The U.S. maybe... Japan, no way. In the U.S. I believe the way it works is the government essentially has to allow you to sue it. You can sue the government if they break a policy (i.e. a sign for road construction is supposed to be 500 feet away, it was only 400 feet, you got in an accident). But you can't sue them if they abide by policy and you still get fucked (i.e. policy says 400 feet, it was 400 feet, you think it should be 500 feet).
    • Is it possible for SCO to sue a country?

      With Microsoft's financial support, I'm sure they could fight Japan to a settlement. Of course, if some crazy judge awarded SCO huge money from IBM, they could just hire an army and bypass the courts completely.

  • by Knife_Edge (582068) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:16PM (#6401707)
    From the article it seems like the Japanese government was running their payroll software on a big proprietary unix system anyway, and was looking to upgrade the underlying system. It is not surprising that they picked Linux to do this - they say one of the reasons for the selection is because the hardware it runs on is cheaper. Maybe they ditched some Sun hardware? Some other vendor?

    I'm sure Microsoft wanted them to use their software, but Linux is more likely to win when the competition is another *nix. Microsoft probably couldn't meet the requirements of 'runs old payroll software' or something, no matter how low they could price their software to compete.

    This is a win for Linux, but not that big of a win, considering the details of the situation. This hardly indicates an expanding mindshare for the platform, just ability to cannibalize another *nix with its freeness.
    • The truly understated point in most of these "Linux gets chosen for X" stories is that in the short- to medium-term, Linux is taking marketshare from other *nix solutions. The battle with Microsoft for the enterprise desktop is still a long ways off.
      • by larien (5608) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:33PM (#6401857) Homepage Journal
        Yup, but the choice is between Linux, proprietary *nix (usually AIX or Solaris) and Windows. In some cases, linux is beating both Windows and Unix.

        BTW, the mention of "large systems" suggests mainframes to me, so potentially no-one's lost on this as it was probably IBM mainframes.

      • For years Microsoft's server growth has, in large part, come from UNIX to Windows migrations. Microsoft used the high price/performance ratio from x86 chips to steal marketshare from UNIX. The fact that Linux is starting to capture these sales is a big deal for the folks at Microsoft. Microsoft currently has a price/earnings ratio of 30. That means that if they want to keep their stock price up where it currently is that they have to show a significant amount of revenue growth. Even if Linux doesn't cu

    • True Linux usually wins when up against other *nix systems that need replacement, but this is still a good thing. If this project is successful (and I imagine it will be), then it will be another instance of Linux acting in an Enterprise manner. This is the key. The more it is seen as a worthy Enterprise level OS, the more it improves mindshare and makes available other opportunities.
    • This is a win for Linux, but not that big of a win, considering the details of the situation. This hardly indicates an expanding mindshare for the platform, just ability to cannibalize another *nix with its freeness.

      We should check back in two or three years. A payroll system is potentially a very high throughput system of many thousands of financial transactions each pay day. If they are successful, in the long-term, with this "upgrade" from UNIX to Linux, then many myths about Linux would be dispelled
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:18PM (#6402240)
      I'm sure Microsoft wanted them to use their software, but Linux is more likely to win when the competition is another *nix. Microsoft probably couldn't meet the requirements of 'runs old payroll software' or something, no matter how low they could price their software to compete.

      It is unlikely the GNU/Linux is going to be running their old software either (hence they are "developing a new system" for deployment by Q2 2004), although they may be able to reuse some code. However, coming from a mainframe environment to a Linux environment doesn't really imply that they will be able to reuse much more code than they would have had they chosen Windows instead.

      However, given Microsoft's incessant moving targets, incompatible windows releases, forced upgrade paths, forced obsolescence, licensing limitations and costs, and labor intensive administrative and maintenance requirements, stealth DRM and backdoor technologies, and woeful security record, it is unsurprising that governments are chosing Linux over Windows.

      Microsoft themselves have said they are focusing the bulk of their efforts on combating the adoption of Linux in government ($CO is but a sideshow of this effort ... the real movers and shakers are flying to Munich, or having the president of Peru come crawling to them in Redmond, and paying bribes...excuse me, campaign contributions... to keep Linux deployment at bay).

      It is quite telling that despite all of these efforts on the part of Redmond the stream of countries dumping Windows as well as older mainframe and *NIX platforms in favor of Linux and other free software efforts (FreeBSD, etc.) is quickly becoming a torrent and shows every sign of escaliting into a flood.

      Don't kid yourself. Wins like this are big for Linux adoption, and they are a huge blow to the monopolists of Redmond.
  • In other totally unrelated news, George Bush has declared Japan a terrorist state. In a recently published dossier the newly appointed Chief of Staff, Gen S. Ballmer said that Japan posed a significant threat to US security, this was further emphasised by Gen D. McBride, who will be leading Operation Litigation
  • by randomErr (172078) <ervin.koschNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:18PM (#6401726) Homepage Journal
    Just to give everyone an idea how much that really is I've ran a conversion to your local exchange rate based on 350 billion dollars:
    US Dollar : 2.9 billion
    UK Pound : 1.8 billion
    Euro : 2.6 billion
    Mexican Peso : 31.1 billion
    Austrial Dollar: 4.5 billion
  • A good market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:19PM (#6401736) Journal
    Well... first before I get flamed to death, I will note that I am writing from MozillaFirebird on X11 with a lot of nice graphics support (GL, etc).

    That being said, however, one of the nice things about 'nix is that you can trim down the graphics or the GUI (as above, not to indicate that linux can't do advanced GUI). With windows, you're looking at the latest OS every now-and-then just to make sure it runs on your hardware... which usually included a bevy of bloated and distasteful GUI crapulence.

    Now, for payroll, we're talking money, calculation, etc... a simple GUI (widget-wise, not necessarily design wise) is all that's needed for the client-side. For the server-side, no GUI needed at all... we're just processing more or less straight numerical data, except for strings on names, account ID's, etc.

    As always, the beauty of linux is choice. For your accounting system, you can eliminate a lot of headache by not using the unnecessary GUI components. In windows, you often don't have as many options in that direction (except disabling "fade effects" and other silliness).

    I fully expect linux to take root and grow within the financial sector more and more as time passes - as long as you don't have MS-only software, there's just no need for an MS Operating System in such an environment.
    • Regarding trimming down the UI, well said. The main apps at my work I use are xemacs, gnome-terminal, and mozilla. I found gnome to be too meomory hungry, so I just switched to fvwm and bingo, my memory use went down by about 100 meg. Moreover, whenever I need nautilus, I just start it. Or, if I need a full fledged KDE or GNOME, all I need to do is switch the WM.

      The interface I use on the desktop is similar to what I used about six years ago, all with the latest applications easily accessible. It speaks a
  • by Lane.exe (672783) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:21PM (#6401755) Homepage
    The lights come up deep within SCO's main control room...

    SCO worker:Captain! We get signal!

    Chris Sontag:Main screen turn on!

    Japanese dignitary appears, holding Darl McBride captive

    Sontag:It's you!

    Dignitary:Good evening, gentleman... all your CEOs are belong to us...

  • Godzilla 2003: SCO vs Godzilla
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:22PM (#6401762)
    I think you may want to look carefully at one of the major vendors that is developing this Linux-based computing system: IBM.

    You know, the same IBM that spent over US$1 billion to port Linux over to run on S/390 and AS/400 hardware. In short, the so-called "Linux wins" are mostly due to the fact they're getting IBM big iron computers running Linux.
  • "Government Personnel and Payroll maintained with Linux"

    (translation) "Looking at it as a basis for investment in the long term, (it) can also be used for marketing ERP solutions. In time, might these also be provided for with open source?"
  • by WegianWarrior (649800) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:40PM (#6401928) Journal

    ...what the underlaying OS is for the system as long as I get my paycheck.

    Still, it saddens me somewhat to see that the Norwegian Armed Forces - who pay my paycheck - are going to switch to yet another windowsbased system as they are changing the system for keeping track of the money (Prosjekt GOLF). Off course, I know why too, the entire intranet for the Norwegian Armed Forces (FISbasis) are running Windows NT something or other.. you know, the one that looks like Win98...

    On the bright side, it appers that a number of the systems I'm not allowed to talk about, running stuff that I'm not supposed to know about *smiles* in places that don't exist, are running on a somewhat modified and customised Linux, since it's considered a better system with regards to uptime and so forth.

  • On Line bill paying (Score:4, Informative)

    by NetNinja (469346) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:43PM (#6401951)
    The Japanese have had an online bill and payroll system for about 10 years now.

    Need to pay your electric bill? Pay it at the bank
    Need to pay the phone bill? Pay it at the bank

    Most companies in the U.S. are just starting to implement this or worst they are starting to charge for it.
  • Japan vs Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vegan Pagan (251984) <deanas@earthlin[ ]et ['k.n' in gap]> on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:49PM (#6402004)
    Considering how badly Microsoft treated their Japanese Xbox employees [gamespot.com], maybe part of this decision was the Japanese government wanting to part ways with MS?
  • by BillsPetMonkey (654200) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @02:51PM (#6402011)
    According to Doripush [slashdot.jp] (rated "excellent"),

    "Of course, Fujistu almost certainly offered Solaris first. However the great and the good in the government said 'Yes, well and good but the OS with the most popular appeal is Linux.' So they went for Linux. When offered by three companies, Linux is also easier to swallow."

    See the Japanese are not the only ones who can play copycat!
  • They're hoping that this Mozilla creature can do something about their bi-annual Godzilla invasions.
  • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @03:59PM (#6402547) Homepage Journal
    Japan To Do Payroll On Linux

    also, Linux development is now on Japan's payroll.

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