If you’ve gone to USPS.com to track and confirm delivery of a letter or package, you’ve used the U.S. Postal Service’s Product Tracking System (PTS) and probably not known it. And you might not have noticed either when USPS moved the system to open source.
Postal Service information technology officials have upgraded the 15-year-old, mainframe-based system to handle more transactions and lower the cost of operating the system.
The work to upgrade PTS is part of a larger plan to standardize on the open-source and less expensive Linux operating system, said John Byrne, manager of application development and head of USPS’ Integrated Business Solutions Centers.
The service is moving 1,300 Sun Solaris midrange servers to a Hewlett-Packard Linux environment. USPS is using Novell’s SUSE Linux on the mainframe and distributed computing platforms to forge greater interoperability between the two environments, Byrne said.
However, the mainframe story is one of migration and reuse of valuable business logic developed over 15 years, Byrne said.
“We’ve hosted [PTS] on the mainframe, and the mainframe is a proprietary environment, meaning you have to pay the software vendors a certain price to use their software,” Byrnesaid . “We wanted to take advantage of Linux and open source. We want to grow the scanned events without having to pay more software costs. So we started down the path to Linux.”