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Tux Makes Orbitz Fly High

Lofty Goals Reached by Linux

  • August 14, 2003
  • By Rob Reilly

As e-commece technology and business models mature, many companies are re-examining the tools they initially used to open their virtual storefronts. One such e-firm is the travel mogul Orbitz, which recently made a major migration to Linux systems.

Orbitz was started by a group of five airlines--American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United--that worked together to develop a travel website that would serve people better than their individual efforts. The requirements would be that the site be easy to use, provide unbiased information on any of the participating airlines, and be a convenient one-stop shopping experience for low-priced air fares.

Needless to say, the order was pretty tall, particulrly when providing a list of low fares meant that the flight and fare search engines had to handle massive amounts of data. Customers had to be able to search for the lowest fares on the widest range of options.

For example, if a customer has $200 to spend and wants to know where they can go for the weekend, the Orbitz system might search for fares across several different weekends, as well as many different destinations. Couple that with having to search through all the various flight times, stopovers, connections, etc. and one can see how powerful the search engines needed to be.

A search could generate 2 billion fare and flight combinations at a time. A new feature, FlexSearch, allows 42 different date combinations cross-matched with hundreds of different fares.

So how did Orbitz handle this monumental task? Initially, with Sun. Now, however, Linux servers are carrying much of the load.

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