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Linux Business The Almighty Buck

InfoWorld on Switching to Linux 319

brentlaminack writes "The latest Infoworld is running a lengthy piece about The Real Cost of Switching to Linux, where it makes sense and where it doesn't. As one of their columnists points out, the debate has switched from "if" to "where". One of the big wins for Linux was in the area of remote administration. Specifically noted was ssh. Also of note is the shift in calculating cost from TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) as has been calculated in the past, to ROI (Return on Investment) that focuses more on what you can do with the technology to get work done."
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InfoWorld on Switching to Linux

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:10PM (#6834596) Homepage Journal
    You'll find that some places use Linux as a stepping stone to get into the more mature *nix-like OSes. The switch from Linux->FreeBSD isn't nearly as daunting as the quantum leap from Windows->Linux.
  • by passthecrackpipe ( 598773 ) * <passthecrackpipe AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:13PM (#6834618)
    "The jury is in. After years of experimentation with Linux in the enterprise, customers, analysts, and vendors are starting to sing a consistent tune about where Linux makes financial sense and where it doesn't."

    They still don' t get it. Even though the article is moderately positive, any article about Linux that starts with "the Jury is in" was written by someone who does not fully understand the dynamics of Open Source. How can "the jury" be "in" on an environment that changes so rapidly as Linux does? How can you say for certain where Linux has a role and where it doesn't? A move in the right direction, but the hacks still need some educating.....
  • Solid Analysis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by InnovativeCX ( 538638 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:13PM (#6834621)
    I have to admit, this is definitely one of the better write-ups that I have seen on the subject. Most, as the article states, base all decisions on the TCO (amount spent) rather than the ROI, which allows organizations to determine how much they would save in the long run if they were to switch.

    Main thrust seems to be that the savings increase with the amount of technical resources converted to Linux systems. Perhaps this could be a deciding factor for many companies and organizations considering taking the plunge.

    Favorite Quote:

    "Discount retailing's a tight business, and we're wicked cheap," explains Burlington Coat Factory CIO Mike Prince..."Instead of having a superhorse you have a team of horses -- you don't have to have this genetic [RISC] wonder."

  • Cost discussion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by maxmo74 ( 597969 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:14PM (#6834630)
    My colleagues and I had several discussions about switching to linux costs during the past years. I am not going to report everything we talked about (especially when we got "hot" and yelled using not very fair terms), but just the essentials. The cost, both for just server or even for workstations, depends a lot upon whether there's at least a professional employed there actively using linux (a geek almost necessarily) and the kind of applications needed to be "ported". In my case, a switch not only would be very expensive (30 workstations using Windows and -gosh- MS Access), but almost impossibile without thinking about an almost complete rewrite of the applications. In many other cases though the switch is not only possibile (email, wordprocessing, spreadsheet) but even very very inexpensive.
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:36PM (#6834752)
    "Overall, the system is still the same."

    I won't go quite that far, but the availability of source code in such quantity means that a program won't suddenly be orphaned because the new version of the OS doesn't support that binary anymore, like Microsoft is doing with programs that were originally released for Windows 3.1 and Windows NT 3.5. Functionality can be maintained through a little amount of work.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:49PM (#6834798) Homepage
    Sure, there's Windows and Solaris and AIX and FreeBSD and NetBSD and OpenBSD and OS X and Linux, at least.

    If you look at current history, they normally expect that different OS systems do not play that well together - and normally, they'd be right. Windows + Linux already sounds fishy to them, but something even more obscure than Linux? Sounds like a patchwork of problems to them.

    Linux is starting to have large industry backing, with giants like IBM. What does *BSD have? Sure, Apple took it for OS X, but do they provide any *business* backing to *BSD? No. Without wanting to join the "BSD is dying trolls", Linux is racing ahead while BSD isn't developing at nearly the same pace, because with mindshare comes users and developers.

    Linux is being promised to be the one solution on everything from embedded devices to supercomputers, and with time even the desktop. This study is one of many to see "where" this is true, not "if", as the submitter said. Even if BSD could win such a comparison, it wouldn't have anywhere near the news value or interest. "Linux: Now also good for your servers" does a lot more than "BSD does good in server study".

  • by sloanster ( 213766 ) <ringfan@@@mainphrame...com> on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:03PM (#6834867) Journal
    Some lame ass anonymous coward wrote: "When linux speeds up to acceptable levels, and supports Professional hardware, we will consider it again in a few years."

    I smell a troll...

    Totally clueless, probably not real. Linux runs circles around OS X performance wise. What the troll was complaining about (if it was actually an actual real life occurrence) was the performance of the gimp vs photoshop on a certain operation.

    I'm skeptical, and would love to see a benchmark of common graphics operations on gimp/linux vs photoshop/osx and photoshop/windoze.

    Who knows, perhaps the gimp is doing some things in a non-optimal fashion. If so, the comparison would cause the gimp crew to step up and make it right.
  • by Snefru2 ( 663397 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:05PM (#6834883)
    TCO and ROI are important measures if you consider switching from a certain system to another one. Many people are thinking of switching to Linux and use the above measures. I do not know of organizations thinking of switching from Linux to OSF, Windows NT or whatever OS other than Linux. I think this is an important fact if you consider switching to Linux, a more important fact than economical measures like TCO or ROI published every now and then.
  • by cowbutt ( 21077 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:57PM (#6835118) Journal
    the point is why Windows->Linux should be any less daunting than Windows->FreeBSD.


    Hype - BSD lost a lot of momentum during the USL lawsuit in the mid-90s. If it didn't, BSD would probably be where Linux is now. Incidentally, this is my biggest worry about the SCO thing.

    Hardware support. Linux supports pretty much any device, no matter how cruddy it is. BSD is, generally speaking, pickier about what gets supported.

    Proprietary ISVs - Is Oracle supported on BSD? Is FireWall-1 supported on BSD? (ignore Nokia's IPSO, smartasses out there ;-)

    Installation - Linux is more readily supplied as a pre-install option, and even if it isn't, modern installers appear more user-friendly than BSD's

    Patch management - the availability of signed, binary patches, obviating the need for make world.


  • Rant (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hobit ( 253905 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:00PM (#6835128)
    I've been a Unix user for around 12 years and a Linux user for about 3. Something wacky happened to my Debian set-up so they re-installed the now standard (here) RedHat. During this process I learned (again) about the cost of switching over.

    First of all, it looks like fvmw2, which I've been using for years isn't a standard rpm supported by the RedHat folks. So I moved to gnome, something I'd been planning for a while. Wow, what a nasty thing. You name it, it didn't work. Printing was a mess (it wouldn't change the default printer and it really really hated the 103 printers in the printcap file.) I couldn't figure out how to set things (like turn off the system beep from the terminal) and found nasty hacks to get around them. It refuses to use my good sound card and instead uses the on-board card. Etc. etc. etc.

    My point? I'm still trying to figure out which of these statements is true (may be more than one):
    • Attempts to make linux GUI driven is doomed to failure.
    • Gnome (at least as supplied by Redhat) is has serious problems. (If it is going to ignore me when I set a default printer, an error message would be nice!)
    • GUI unix isn't for us old farts.
  • by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:12PM (#6835172)
    1- you don't need new hardware. linux runs on damn near any platform, at least those that count. x86-yes, sparc-yes, ppc-yes, big iron - yes (thanks IBM)

    2- the options taht linux gives you are unlimited. with windows, what they give you is what you get. for instance: let's say you have 20-30 older boxen. turn them into thin clients. suddenly adding 30 new cubicles and need a bridge or router. fine. where's that old pentium 120 we had laying around.

    3- with windows you either upgrade when they say, or face EOL'd products. even if yo have an old RH5.2 mail server (and you know who you are!!), you never have to upgrade. and you have the source.

    those are examples that the article missed. i'm sure there are many more. this is where TCO analyses falter. how do you calculate the cost of things like these?
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:16PM (#6835195)
    At one point in history, Adobe did have a version of Photoshop for Solaris 2. Part of the reason I know this was I was looking into big ass monitors in the mid 1990's, and discovered I could get into a sun with a big ass screen with a buttload of ram for about the cost of a new big ass multi-sync monitor, and the same chap that was selling used Sun equipment also had copies of Photoshop for sale. Plus my scanner had NO win95 support, but did have Sane support. For your average user, this wasn't what you would call an acceptable solution as it was a multi-grand software package where PC editions were just under a grand. Near as I can remember, there was NO option for for direct purchace of a *nix edition. X support was really quite spiffy.

    I think version 3.x was the last version for the Sun but it leads me to ask.... if they developed a Solaris edition, why have they not bothered with a BSD/Linux edition.
  • by paj1234 ( 234750 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:41PM (#6835297)
    • Risk of the 'Software Police'
    • Timewasting 'licence audits'
    • Microsoft business practices
    • Paying again every 5 years
    • Viruses, worms
    • Staff timewasting on Ebay etc
    • Overworked, frustrated tech staff
    All these are avoidable... as Sternie Ball of guitar string maker Ernie Ball explains here [com.com].

APL hackers do it in the quad.