Is Linux vs. Windows a Religious Decision?: Page 3

Posted September 22, 2006

James Maguire

James Maguire

(Page 3 of 3)

Cost at High Volumes

In some cases, IT managers opt for Linux because they feel the open source model allows them to build out their systems without being limited by a proprietary model. Open source means lower license fees and fewer restrictions, or so the thinking goes.

But this is belief is a fallacy, in Federle’s view. There are, he estimates, some 25,000 ISVs for the Microsoft platform, including the ones who also develop Linux software. Such an immense pool of developers provides great flexibility for a Windows-based enterprise.

Moreover, “Saying the cost of [Linux] software is ‘free,’ it’s ‘freeware,’ well, no – if you’re going to run it in production you have to go buy the MySQL licenses, you have to buy the Oracle licenses.” And while Red Hat software is “dirt cheap,” it isn’t free, he notes.

Windows server software is quite modestly priced, he says. One of the server software licensees is $3,000, a low sum, and if companies buy in bulk this can be lowered to approximately $1,500. An enterprise the size of, say, Boeing, might spend no more than $300,000 to $500,000, a minor cost given its corporate girth. “They’re not going to save much money by going over to Linux.”

Heterogeneous Environments

Today’s IT infrastructures, Federle notes, are highly heterogeneous. Windows sits next to Linux, which sometimes lives on a network with Unix or an IBM mainframe.

“If you’re talking about a large organization, the likelihood that they’re going to be able to run a homogenous environment is pretty slim,” he says.

Yet this heterogeneity comes at a cost. Certain resources aren’t as easily leveraged when multiple OSes are cobbled together. Consequently, “you want to keep it as simple as you can, and you want to stick to your rules as much as you can.”

And you want to (and this is where it gets tricky) make your decisions based on sound business principles rather than emotional preferences. It’s best to avoid religion when choosing your operating system – if possible.

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