Switching to Linux More Than Just Cost Savings

Hardly a day goes by it seems without some corporation announcing a move of its computing infrastructure from Windows to Linux. Yet, just a few years ago, commercial organizations running Linux were seen as daring or even foolhardy.

But Linux has grown up considerably today and is backed by big names like IBM, HP and Novell. The rebel code is coming of age as a sensible, respectable alternative operating platform.

While no responsible CIO is going to move to Linux just for the sake of change, many organizations are having change thrust upon them. That’s because Microsoft will cease supporting Windows NT at the end of the year. This will leave an estimated 1.2 million organizations around the world looking for a migration.

While most will be considering an upgrade to Windows 2003 (and probably upgrading their servers in order to run it) one of the alternatives is to switch to Linux.

It’s a popular misconception the key attraction of Linux is cost savings. The argument goes that Linux, being open-source, is cheap, and therefore running Linux must be far cheaper than running Windows.

But this is not necessarily the case. IDC estimates that over a five-year period, as little as 30% of the TCO of a computing platform is accounted for by software costs. Staff, on the other hand, can add up to 70% of costs. Not surprising to many but … “This means that if the software is free but you need to employ four new Linux support staff, the Linux solution may be more costly,” says Dan Kusnetzky, an IDC analyst.