The China Telecom Corporation was keen to minimise its reliance on individual software vendors, and decided to investigate Linux operating systems. Working with Chongqing Telecommunications Services, a SUSE Partner, the company’s Chongqing branch chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as its platform for network services and some applications and databases.
Formed by the China Telecom Corporation in 2003, the Chongqing branch serves China’s largest municipality, which has a population of more than 30 million people. The company employs more than 10,000 people, and its main services include fixed-line and mobile telecommunications (CMDA), satellite communications, Internet service provision, systems integration, technology development and other value-added services.
For many years, the Chongqing branch of the China Telecom Corporation has used high-end proprietary UNIX platforms—such as IBM AIX and HP-UX—to run its core business systems.
“The UNIX technologies are mature and reliable, but they are also relatively expensive,” said Mr. Peng Gong, Systems Administrator for the Chongqing branch. “Moreover, it is part of our corporate policy to reduce our dependence on individual suppliers as much as possible. With proprietary operating systems, it is very difficult to maintain this independence—so we became interested in open source options.”
When the central IT service of the China Telecom Corporation decided that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server should become one of the corporation’s preferred operating systems, the Chongqing branch decided to test its performance and availability in a real-world environment.
With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, we were able to obtain the level of support appropriate for a telecoms company—which is especially critical when large numbers of users depend on the platform.
The company worked with Chongqing Telecommunication Services, a local SUSE Partner that specialises in solutions for the telecoms industry, to implement SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on a number of different x86-based servers from IBM, HP and Dell.
“We had a number of systems that we thought would be good candidates for moving to a Linux platform,” said Mr. Peng Gong. “These included network services and maintenance tools, as well as a number of smaller application and database servers. In total, we identified approximately 20 systems that we could run on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, which would help us assess the advantages of the platform for our business.”
Most of the systems running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are mainly accessed by 50 or 60 users within the IT team, but some also support the wider user population across the whole company.
“With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, we were able to obtain the level of support appropriate for a telecoms company— which is especially critical when large numbers of users depend on the platform,” said Mr. Peng Gong. “Chongqing Telecommunication Services provides a good level of service, helping us make changes to the environment in a timely fashion and ensuring that we don’t need to worry about day-to-day maintenance issues. We also have a three-year support contract with SUSE, in case any major issues arise.”
The Chongqing branch views the Linux implementation as a success.
“It seems to us that manufacturers such as IBM and HP are still mainly focused on their proprietary UNIX technologies, but Linux is definitely becoming a more important and viable option,” said Mr. Peng Gong. “For example, you can run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on the IBM Power Architecture now. This may be a viable option for us in the future.”
Most of the day-to-day maintenance and administration of the Linux environment is delivered by Chongqing Telecommunication Services, reducing workload for the IT staff at the Chongqing branch. From the in-house team’s perspective, the most important advantages of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are its security and stability.
“Security is an issue that has become increasingly important in the past few years, as telecommunications have become a greater part of people’s lives,” said Mr. Peng Gong. “And stability is a continual concern of all telecommunications companies, because our business is by nature a 24x7 operation. On both counts, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server performs very well—and we have not experienced any problems since the implementation.”
Equally, low licensing and support costs, combined with free access to a wide range of open source tools and software, make SUSE Linux Enterprise Server an ideal option for many of the company’s systems.
“If we keep licensing costs to a minimum, it means we have greater ability to experiment and try out new technologies,” said Mr. Peng Gong. “Equally, because Linux is itself an open source operating system, it gives us more flexibility—and we are not tied to a single vendor for support. Increasing competition among our suppliers is a good thing for us, and SUSE is certainly going to be an option for more of our systems in the future.”