Is Linux vs. Windows a Religious Decision?: Page 2

Posted September 22, 2006

James Maguire

James Maguire

(Page 2 of 3)

One Man’s Choice

As for Federle himself, he attempts – as much as anyone can – to remove the religious elements from the Windows-Linux debate. Based on his assessment of several key factors, he places himself in the Windows camp.

Especially if the decision between platforms takes into account initial development costs and ongoing maintenance effort. In this case Windows is surely less expensive, in his view.

“If you look at the Linux platform, it’s running on the Intel box, so your infrastructure cost isn’t going to be that much different,” than Windows, he says.

However, Windows allows custom development to be significantly cheaper, he opines, because of the way Microsoft is commoditizing development.

“They’re doing the same thing in the development world that they did in the desktop world,” he says. “On the development side, the level of technical expertise that it takes to build a meaningful line of business applications is being reduced significantly.”

The result: fewer highly paid programmers are needed to design a company’s IT infrastructure.

For instance, his consultancy recently built a Windows-based application that handles a blizzard of data flow for a large insurance company. Using complex ranking criteria, the app presents paid claims for the company to perform post-payment audits on. It processes about a million claims per month.

As advanced as this application is, “we did not write a line of C# – or anything – above the database level,” Federle says.

Furthermore, the Windows development platform enables companies to update applications themselves – they won’t need to hire an outside consultant. “You go in there, and you check the box saying ‘I want to display field X, and I want to sort on field Y, and I want to group and total by this, and that’s all just configuration buttons.”

In contrast to the Linux OS, the Windows platform’s easy configurability “reduces [the client’s] future burden on the IT resources,” he says.

Trillions of Transactions

Some industry observers, pointing to the countless bugs that bedevil Windows, claim the Microsoft platform is less secure than its Linux counterpart.

But Federle disagrees. “The idea that a platform is more secure by having the code actually visible to someone who’s a hacker is an interesting concept.”

He points out that virus writers can only create malicious code for machines they have access to. So less common platforms appear safer only by virtue of their rarity. “The Linux and Unix platforms and the IBM mainframe are no more secure than the Windows platform, but someone who’s writing a virus doesn’t have access to an IBM mainframe.”

Virus writers try to disrupt as many people as possible to get as much attention as they can. They’re not targeting the biggest communities when they target Linux, Unix or Mac users. Hence, Federle points out, these users are attacked less – but that doesn’t mean their OSes are safer than Windows.

“There are people who say, ‘I’m not going to put my mission critical on the Microsoft platform because it’s not stable enough.’ Well, Verizon runs all of its billings systems on it – and who knows how many trillions of transactions that handles.”

Next Page: Cost at High Volumes

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