Cutting costs, idealism aside
Thus far we have to examine a couple basic ways of cutting your IT costs: using Linux thin clients connected to both Windows and Linux servers. And stand-alone workstations using the existing Windows installation, yet relying heavily on open source software so that the company is able to keep licensing costs down to a dull roar. After all, the idea is to cut your department's overhead, not change the world of software in a day.
And so everything described above, in a perfect world, can work without too much trouble. The biggest challenge to its success is facing your ability to implement these changes without getting into the idealistic disputes of closed source vs. open source. In short, get over the idea that one way of looking at software clearly must be better than the other this is nonsense.
Once you overcome the one way is best mindset, your company is then free to utilize what both the open and closed source worlds have to provide. This will be the winning formula of commonsense that enables the enterprise to harness the power of merging these software technologies together.
A perfect union, perhaps not. But it will definitely work and keep costs down at the same time and prove your ability to think outside of the box during tight economic times.
Thinking about servers
The final area I want to touch on is the need for servers. Obviously, theyre a fact of life in today's business world.
Yet, once again, choosing based on absolutes may not be the most logical answer. Outside of the Web server market, it seems like most businesses immediately latch onto anything Windows-based for their server needs. Clearly, that is where the support is right?
Not really. While Microsoft does well in the enterprise markets, so does Red Hat and Novell, with Canonical chugging away with its own brand of support. In the end it could very well be the most cost effective approach to provide both Linux and Windows servers, as it could save on expenses in the licensing dept.
And let's face it, not everything in the enterprise requires a Windows licensed server. Sorry, hate to be the one to point this out, but Linux often makes for a smoother solution for some tasks not relating directly to the desktop needs of Windows users.
So what is the hold up then? If this entire vision of mine is such a great idea, why are we not seeing more businesses and government agencies taking this mixed bag approach more seriously?
Well, I have seen indications that the US is badly behind with Linux adoption as a collective whole when compared to the rest of the world. Not just with businesses either. This is also a problem with schools and government agencies alike. Here in the US, if it requires a shift in what we perceive to be normal, forget it. Apparently, this is showing no signs of changing anytime soon, either.
So here is the challenge to the IT departments across the US and it all starts with you. Rather than continuing to put all of your eggs in one Windows basket, consider blending in Linux thin clients wherever possible. Even if they are connected to a Windows server, with the assistance of a Linux support team, making the "blend" should not be all that difficult once you set your mind to it. Best of all, you will be the IT guy that was able to breathe new life into the PCs from the basement that were otherwise on their way to the recycle bin.
Remember, I am not advocating going exclusively Linux here. As nice it might be from an ideological standpoint, its a pipe dream in the world's current infrastructure. Just understand that it is definitely doable for you to begin the blending process now while there are still (hopefully) some available funds to get thing into place.