Bringing Linux and .NET together


By offering both Linux and Microsoft-based Web hosting platforms under a single account, a Toronto-based Web hosting provider is promising businesses and developers reduced development time and lower administration and hosting costs.

In the past, businesses and Web developers generally had to choose between using Microsoft technology such as ASP.NET or Linux technology such as PHP when building their Web sites, said NetFirms president Thomas Savundra. If they did want to use both, that meant hosting the site and its applications with multiple hosts, creating administrative and technological complexities.

However, most companies, said Savundra, would choose one or the other. “Most Web developers are working on the Linux platform but there’s also a lot of developers that want to use the Microsoft platform,” he said, adding NetFirms has been getting more Microsoft requests from its customers. “Microsoft is bringing to the table a lot of robust applications that people can add to their Web sites.”

NetFirms has primarily been a Linux shop, but after working with Microsoft to iron out some of the technical complexities, it is now addressing that demand with multi-platform server technology that lets developers host both platforms with NetFirms through the same management screen and account.

“This reduces cost and it makes it a lot more convenient for Web developers to build their Web site,” said Savundra.

A range of Windows-based functionality is offered via the Microsoft Hosting Partner Program. On the Linux side, a full LAMP development environment is provided. Windows-based apps run natively on a Windows Server 2003 server grid and Linux-based apps run natively on a Linux server grid, and the two platforms are united through proprietary clustering technology.

Savundra said getting there required overcoming some technical hurdles. He added the divide between the two in the past has been a bit philosophical as well.

“There’s the Microsoft camp and the Linux camp, and they traditionally kept to their separate ways,” said Savundra. “But the reality is it’s hard to do, and it’s a paradigm shift in the industry.”

One NetFirms client is already testing the new offering, and is excited about the potential for reducing administration time and cost. ColorShadow Communications is a Web and multimedia development firm based in Toronto , which has for its clients companies like Volvo, Loblaws and Royal Bank Insurance.

Damian Tran, ColorShadow’s president, said over the years clients have requested the firm build applications on different platforms. That meant working with different suppliers. Besides the technical challenges, Tran said it takes time to develop a comfortable relationship with a supplier.

“When you’re dealing with multiple suppliers you have to spread your time across all of them and you don’t get to concentrate on one or two suppliers that you would like to build a long-term relationship with,” said Tran.

“(This) allows us to consolidate everything under one roof, with one point of contact, which ultimately reduces a lot of administration and cost as well. That’s one thing I’m excited about.”


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