Kachingo winner was Linux

The Kachingo customer rewards system may have been a failure in New Zealand but the system it ran on, Linux RedHat 6.2, has been hailed as a roaring success.

The Kachingo customer rewards system may have been a failure in New Zealand, but the system it ran on, Linux RedHat 6.2, has been hailed as a roaring success.

Global Online Systems, which ran the IT side of Kachingo, says it went with Linux for a number of commercial reasons, which the open source operating system lived up to.

“We chose Linux because of our ability to customise it, its reliability and the low cost of deployment,” says Noel Duckworth, technology manager for Global Online, “and we were able to achieve everything we wanted with it.”

Kachingo folded in New Zealand last month after 18 months of operation, leaving $1.4 million worth of unclaimed prizes. While customers who shopped at participating retailers SuperLiquor, BP, Woolworths, BigFresh and PriceChopper didn’t always check the numbers on their receipts to see if they’d won anything, the data needed to produce those numbers flowed freely and in a trouble-free manner over Linux, Duckworth says.

“For the past 18 months we had 500 remote servers, connecting 1700 points of sale. In December 2000 we had 110 servers at SuperLiquor and from October 2001 another 400 were deployed [at other retailers]. And we don’t believe we had any failures due to Linux.”

The companies behind Kachingo are looking to take the scheme overseas. Atlantis Group, an Auckland based investment company, was due to take over the Australia and New Zealand licence for Kachingo on April 1.

Software specific to Kachingo was developed by Global Online, and will operate for another six months to allow winners to claim prizes. The outfit chose RedHat 6.2 over other commercial versions of Linux “because it’s been in the market a while and we knew they’d be there for us if we needed them”, Duckworth says.

“We wanted a minimum of three years without having to do any upgrades or maintenance and we don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t have achieved that. With remote systems, what costs you money is having to go out and fix them.”

Kachingo was centrally hosted by Logical CSI on IBM NetFinity servers, with the majority of the remote servers running from Compaq PCs.

The system was “very scalable” and carried “one of the biggest transaction loads in the country — and Linux handled it pretty well.”

It was always intended to take Kachingo overseas, say its backers, and Duckworth says Linux would be a suitable platform for bigger markets.

“We don’t think we’d run into problems in larger geographies — we wouldn’t look to change the use of Linux on remote servers. The only reason we might go to a proprietary system is for the support and tools and scalability in larger populations.”

Unix and Citrix were considered during the planning stages of Kachingo, before the decision to go with Linux was made.

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