Is your IT Department Linux ready?
Assuming the purchase and installation of the new dual-boot workstations/notebooks went according to plan, there remains one important piece to this puzzle that is often overlooked: Is your IT team Linux ready? Key members of your IT dept should be Linux certified, so that they can work securely within the Linux realm.
Other options include hiring a consultant, or even just bringing in new employees who are already certified for the particular distribution in question. Below, Ill explore each option and how each would potentially affect your company.
Hiring a consultant: Bringing in a consultant is a great way to get your IT staff up to speed when time is an issue. On the flip side, however, there remains a question as to long-term value. Should something unexpected come up, your IT department is then faced with a challenge that they might not be able to handle. This means again bringing in outside help, in one form or another. So while consultants are great for the short term, they leave a lot to be desired in a dynamic enterprise environment.
Training your existing IT team: Knowing your existing team can learn the basics quickly enough to become proficient in no time flat, in-house training is a viable option to consider. Even when Linux is used only as a quick back-up or for a speedy data recovery, understanding the basics will save on unneeded calls to outside support. The obvious downside is that this training adds cost and requires staff to spend time away from daily duties.
Microsoft Patent Threats?
Anytime an IT department explores the viability of Linux being added to their enterprise environment, the question of 'patent violations' come up, especially here in the U.S. Despite the fact that there has been zero proof publicly issued to support Microsoft's' claims, those companies in the U.S. considering Linux are put into a rather uncomfortable position.
To help those who maintain concerns with Microsoft patents, I would point out the following: there are distributions that have agreed to pay Microsoft's 'patent fees' for you (they are mentioned below). The one thing to be aware of is that most popular workstations are featuring Ubuntu, not either of the distributions mentioned below. On the plus side, locating notebooks with SuSE Enterprise Linux is relatively easy.
Novell's SLED 10: If I was in a position where the boss was breathing down my neck over the potential threat of Microsoft patent violations, using Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 would be the distribution that I would choose. Offered by a mature, established company like Novell, it gives you and your team piece of mind in knowing that SLED 10 support will be there, should things get sticky with compatibility issues. Designed for the enterprise user by enterprise users, this is my desktop of choice for those in the U.S. with concerns over Microsoft's patent threats.
Xandros: Providing your users with VPN, easy connectivity to the Internet and a Window-like security suite, this distribution feels so much like Windows that it is surprising that Microsoft has not acquired it yet.
Unfortunately, locating desktop workstations with either OS installed is a challenge. Ive checked a number of Linux desktop PC distributors and all of them are either going with OpenSuSE or Ubuntu. So it might be worth contacting either of the distribution vendors above to see what options they recommend.