Switching to Linux More Than Just Cost Savings

So, any company looking to Linux for cost savings needs to ask whether existing staff have Linux skills (staff familiar with Unix can probably become conversant with Linux in a short space of time). If so, then switching from Windows to Linux could offer significant cost savings.

If not, maybe Windows ’03 is the way to go. At this point it’s a business decision, not a software decision.

But costs savings are not the only potential benefits of Linux. IBM is one of the highest profile companies pressing NT users to switch to Linux, but Adam Jollans, Linux strategy manager for IBM’s software group, hardly mentions cost benefits at all.

“For a set of people, it may be a good move to move to Linux if there’s a smooth migration,” he said. “The drivers are increased reliability, better security and better control over hardware resources.”

DTS Logistics, a UK-based stock picking and distribution company, for example, had existing staff with Linux skills and saved thousands by installing a Suse OpenExchange messaging system on Linux instead of implementing Microsoft Exchange on Windows.

“What we have got with the Linux system is comparable to an Exchange solution, but we saved by not having to buy client access licenses,” said Mohammed Taj, the company’s IT director. With 140 users of email Taj saved almost $14,000 in end user license fees alone.

Virgin Money, an international financial services company, has been running its Oracle financials system on Linux for about six months, and has used a Linux-based Web servers for over two years.

Now that Linux has proved itself under real-world conditions, Andy Makins, VM’s senior infrastructure engineer, is considering moving the company’s Lotus Domino messaging system from Windows NT to Linux.

“Cost is not so much of an issue,” he said. “Linux for us is more about reliability and performance. We’ve proved that Linux is more stable than NT, although Windows 2003 looks very good. We are certainly looking at other projects like moving file and print services to Linux as well, because no-one disputes that it would be more stable on Linux.”