Is Linux vs. Windows a Religious Decision?

A veteran IT manager talks about how very personal the debate between platforms has become – and why he strongly prefers one over the other.
Posted September 22, 2006
By

James Maguire

James Maguire


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Dick Federle is a highly experienced IT systems manager and architect, having designed and supervised many custom development jobs. Currently working for OTB Solutions, a consultancy based in Seattle, he previously managed Ernst & Young’s Business Architecture practice.

Along the way, Federle has noticed an odd phenomenon in the world of IT. He’s seen many managers make one of their most critical decisions – whether to opt for Windows or for Linux – on strictly personal grounds.

It’s as if they’re choosing between Windows and Linux based on a gut feeling. Almost as if it’s an abstract, philosophical decision, based on one’s innermost intuition, instead of a straight-ahead business decision.

“There are any number of [IT] shops – probably the majority, quite frankly – that have a religious opinion about whether they should be on one platform or another,” Federle tells Datamation. “It really has little or nothing to do with the reality of the virtues of any of the platforms.”

On the surface, managers carefully consider the Holy Grail of the platform debate: total cost of ownership, or TCO as it’s known in the reams of reports that very rationally detail Linux vs. Windows. Then they weigh issues like security, reliability, and flexibility.

But after all that, the gut kicks in. These managers, “read all the analyses, and all the articles, and they always boil it down to dollars and cents and everything else. But I wouldn’t be surprised if fewer than 50 percent of the people out there are actually making an architectural decision based on business reasons,” Federle says.

Instead, the Windows-Linux decision is driven by factors like whether “the CIO loves Windows, or hates Gates.”

Next page: One Man’s Choice


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