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FUD about Linux costing more

© August 2004 Tony Lawrence

Microsoft loves to try to scare people away from Linux by talking about "overall costs". This Yankee Group report has similar language:

"All of the firms would like to reduce the amount of up-front
capital expenditure dollars they spend on expensive Windows and
Unix software licenses," the report found. "However, they also
recognize that in certain instances, a wholesale or significant
switch to Linux might reduce up-front costs but result in higher
overall costs."

Well, I've seen quite a few customers switch from Unix to Windows and it has ALWAYS cost them more. More support, more people, more everything. So how can the opposite switch ever cost more? Properly setup Unix/Linux systems need little on-going maintenance, and often only a part time consultant is needed. Many of my clients get by with paying me very little per year, which isn't good news for my retirement plans, but it sure costs them less. But on the Windows side of things, "there is always money flying out the window", as one customer put it.

The Yankee Group also makes sure to put in other quotes Microsoft likes:

"We have no intention of switching to Linux," an unnamed MIS manager
is quoted as saying in the report, "but we do find it useful as a
stone to throw at Microsoft."

Implying, of course, that many of the people who said they were looking at Linux might not really be. It's all just a hoax, don't worry Bill, the bank vaults won't be empty any time soon.

Bull-poop, I say. And further I say that I am, right now, as you read this, actively switching people to Linux AND IT'S OFTEN AT THEIR REQUEST.

Microsoft FUD is what it is, but reality is something entirely different.

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"an unnamed MIS manager is quoted as saying in the report"

Hey, Tony, have you noticed how these reports always seem to be peppered with quotes from "unamed MIS managers?" Could it be that MIS managers who actually know what they are doing are not making positive statements about Windows, and therefore don't get quoted?

"Properly setup Unix/Linux systems need little on-going maintenance, and often only a part time consultant is needed."

How true. A client of mine has a box that handles their E-mail, web services, DNS, IPNAT and such for their office, and also provides mail and web services for several other sites. This box has been continuously on line for 407 days as of this writing and has required little maintenance, other than cleaning the air filters, checking the logs and blowing the dust out of the front panel. The only admin work that has been required since the machine went into service is occasionally add or subtracting mail users. Guess which operating system is *not* running this server.


---September 1, 2004

I always thought it was the exactly oppisite. Switching from Windows to Linux would mean that your up-front costs will be significantly more, but over the long run your operating costs will be significantly less.

this is my thought on it:
Most companies already have their liscences paid for, there are even programs in MS were they award steep discounts to companies that buy liscences in advanced. So that's a sunk cost and is irrelivent to any realistic comparision.

Windows is free to own long as you already own it. And if you have something like a Exchange server, Active Directory, and a bunch of propriatory database stuff based around Office spreadsheets and MS SQL it will cost you a lot of money in terms of working man-hours cost to translate your infrastucture over to Unix/Linux.

But over the long run you'd be better off keeping your systems diversified, and linux is a good way to start. It's relative easy to go from, say, Novel/Suse/HP solution to a IBM/Redhat setup. Also it's possible that you can liberate yourself competely from vendors and develope a setup using no liscences at all. It's also relatively easy to go from a Linux solution to a Solaris solution. Or integrate all different types of Unix stuff together. If you want you can run a 4-way opteron setup, or a 32 cpu IA64 solution, or a Sun box, or a local pc assembler's x86. All of them have different costs associated with them, but the software will more or less be universal and scale along with whatever hardware or other needs you have.

So that also means that your going to be dealing with vendors that actually have to compete with each other.

The longer you use Windows the more entretched your orginazion is going to be and the more painfull it is going to be when time comes to seek other solutions. Wintel just doesn't play nice with other platforms. Not to also mention that even though you have Windows now, your going to have to buy all new liscences within the next 2-4 years for Win2003 and Longhorn Longhorn/server stuff, along with all new liscences for your software to go along with the new windows OSes and 64bit-ness.... The time to begin switching isn't when your looking down the barrel of the gun in terms of liscencing and support costs.

But that's why I think switching to linux would initially be more expensive then just keeping what you already have (if your a windows-only shop), but in the long run could save a bundle.


---January 20, 2005

I have never met a client that already owned all the assorted windows Licenses they needed for what they were doing, and in the event they did, soon enough M$ would change the rules.

No, version of windows is free so long as you already own it. Almost always you are in a ouble bind. You must upgrade because new software(or hardware) that you must have requires the new OS. You can not upgrade because old software that you must have will not run on the new OS. Upgrading from Windows 98 to Windows XP can be more expensive and more of a culture shock than moving to Linux.
In the unlikely event that you actually manage to be in the position of having one of those free because you alreay own it versions of Windows - it isn't supported anymore. If you intermix the practically required upgrade cycles for both the OS and applications, you are never not upgrading something in a windows system, and those upgrades have a price.
Finally, I had to do a from scratch Windows 2000 re-install recently, the experience effectively rebutted the "linux is too hard to install" argument. I had forgotten how difficult it is to get a fully working decent stable windows install with all the right drivers etc.

Sat Jun 16 11:32:06 2012: 11105   TonyLawrence


Do a Google for "IT consulting firm IDC reports that every dollar a company spends on a Microsoft product results in an additional $8 of IT expenses."

I've seen that over and over again..


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