When considering licensing costs, support, management tools, support and training, Windows and even Solaris make better financial sense than using Linux.
By Daniel P. Dern
Submitted for your consideration: There are some legitimate TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) reasons not to use Linux in the enterprise, or in smaller IT shops. That is, there are cases where it makes sense to use Windows or perhaps Solaris, or another vendor’s Unix-on a per-application, server, project or group basis-or even, if feasible, for the entire enterprise.
Let’s look at some TCO reasons for staying away from the Penguin, even if it means hanging with the Borg-rather, sticking with a Microsoft Windows-based IT environment-or considering a vendor Unix.
Patent infringement concerns could be an unquantifiable future TCO item for using Linux because Microsoft could potentially sue companies where there aren’t indemnification deals in place, like Novell or SuSE.
“That’s a potential exposure a company will face if they implement Linux themselves, as opposed to Windows, or a proprietary Unix,” says Andi Mann, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) (enterprisemanagement.com), an independent industry analyst and consulting firm 100 percent dedicated to the IT management market.
Is this potential future cost enough of a TCO factor to sway companies into staying with Microsoft…or redirecting them toward, say, Solaris?
Linux Licenses May Actually Cost More
In her January 2007 report, “Microsoft, Sun Strike Back by Making OSes Low-Cost Alternatives to Linux,” Laura DiDio, a research fellow at analyst firm The Yankee Group (yankeegroup.com), states that proprietary operating systems from Microsoft and from Sun “may cost less than comparable Linux offerings from Red Hat and Novell”-10 percent to 100 percent less, according to DiDio, depending on the OS configuration and length of licensing contract. DiDio’s comparisons are for Windows Server 2003, and Solaris 10, versus Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SuSE Linux.
Most Linux distros come chock-full of free goodies, of course. But for the money you spend with Microsoft, you can get an impressive amount and range of valuable gifts and prizes-sorry, tools and services.
For example, notes Yankee Group’s DiDio, “If you buy Microsoft’s Software Assurance, you pay a premium for it, but you get a lot. You get vouchers for free training. And you get access to online asset management for tracking licenses so you don’t overbuy or underbuy, which can be a big saver. You get big discounts on home-usage rights.”
Microsoft’s Software Assurance can be worthwhile for even a very small business, with as few as 10 people, providing thousands of dollars of savings, according to DiDio-“and for a large enterprise, it can be good for millions of dollars.”
Also, reports DiDio, “The improved patch management tools in Windows reduced the time spent by network administrators by an average of 50 percent to 80 percent, at no incremental cost. And Microsoft provides its Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for free. You could eat up another 20 percent to 25 percent of your IT budget purchasing third-party tools like management and performance enhancers for Linux that are already included in Windows licensing.”
Windows isn’t the only Linux alternative with useful goodies, either.
If you’re planning to use virtualization or virtualization-like environments on your servers, “To do virtualization with VMware can often add a thousand dollars or more to the cost of a CPU per server,” says Marc Hamilton, vice president of Solaris marketing at Sun Microsystems. Solaris, Hamilton points out, includes Sun’s Containers virtualization facility, at no additional cost.
If You’re Not Well-Equipped, Windows Will Cost Less
Daniel P. Dern is an independent technology writer. He runs
Windows on his desktop and notebook, but still uses his shell accounts…and has written lots positive stuff about Linux and open source, and dined with Eric Raymond.