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2/14/2006
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Study: Linux Cheaper, Easier Than Windows

Stung by Microsoft's charges that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of Linux was higher than Windows, open source software interests sought this week to refute the charges in a survey of IT organizations that lists various developments--many of them new--in which Linux undercuts Windows in price and management complexity.

Stung by Microsoft's charges that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of Linux was higher than Windows, open source software interests sought this week to refute the charges in a survey of IT organizations that lists various developments--many of them new--in which Linux undercuts Windows in price and management complexity.

A report released Monday, sponsored by Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and member firm Levanta, said earlier Linux management "pains" no longer exist and IT operations running Linux often spend less time and money running Linux than Windows. The study was prepared by Enterprise Management Associates, which surveyed several thousand IT organizations by telephone and conducted interviews with CIOs and MIS directors at a wide variety of large Linux and mixed-software installations.

"The study wasn't intended to be a direct head-to-head comparison between Linux and Windows management," said Levanta's director of marketing, David Dennis, in an email interview Tuesday. "EMA's research determined that Linux management has come a very long way in a very short period of time. It now presents another set of data so a more even-handed debate can occur."

Dennis maintains that Linux has recently pulled ahead of Windows in several areas including security, problem resolution and management, and support. Noting that a Windows weak spot has been security issues illustrated by its frequency of patching, the 17-page report noted that most Linux administrators with sophisticated tools can provision a system in less than one hour.

"When's the last time you heard of a massive patch release from Linux that was going to halt IT shops in their tracks for inordinate amounts of time," asked Dennis? "That's exactly the burden that Windows is placing on IT shops this week."

"Whereas the 200 Linux shops that EMA talked to in its study take, on average, five minutes total per week, per server managing Linux systems -- including patch management, system migration and repurposing, security management, and virus/spyware protection -- 90 percent of the respondents indicated that the time and effort required for managing Linux servers is the same or less.

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