This time, in PC World. This story posted over at PC World Magazine’s web site ‘explains’ just how simple it is for a COMPANY to make the big leap from nasty old expensive Windows to cheap and oh-so wonderful Linux. Sarcasm aside, the article makes it seem like it is just a trivial thing to move from one platform to the ‘free’ Linux. Only, not so much. These types of stories are old and tiresome and just plain wrong. The writer of the story points out all of the expense involve in upgrading Windows versions…new hardware, the upgrade licensing, etc. While it may be true that often times there is a hardware cost involved, it is usually also true that upgrades generally only take place when the hardware is replaced either through natural attrition (machine dies, or some other fate befalls the machine) or a lease expires. Having worked at a few large fortune 500 companies and a few smaller ones, I understand how this works. Upgrades at major companies tend to be over time and often way behind the consumer. Entire platform shifts are darn near impossible, certainly they can be very costly. Even if the operating system itself is ‘free’, there is still a tremendous cost. Training issues, compatibility, etc. It is a high cost indeed.
The article goes on to point out all of the wonderful free software that a company could use instead of that oh so expensive Microsoft stuff like Exchange and Office. Why, there’s OpenOffice for MS Office and there’s…hmm, nothing for Exchange. That’s when the writer makes the most asinine statement: why, when a company cannot REPLACE software, just virtualize the old operating system and run the software there! Wow. So, a company is going to go through ripping out it’s software infrastructure, retrain people and install Linux and it’s freebies only to turn around and STILL have to run the old operating system because a few packages ARE NOT available in Linux? The author even suggests WINE. WINE works for many things, but it is not Windows and cannot run everything. The biggest hurdle would home grown software. Many companies cannot or will not rewrite it’s homegrown software, for many reasons, cost being a big factor.
Most companies of any real size will have some kind of IT department. That department will most likely be made up of people who know what they are doing. SHOULD a company decide to switch operating systems on such a scale, they will already have done the research, rendering articles like this moot. But, then again, that is most likely not the aim of the article. No, it smells more like a pro Linux, anti ‘proprietary’ software story. While Macintosh was not mentioned in the article, you have to lump into the same category as Windows here. Reason? You still have to buy it. You’d have to buy the comparable software to run on it. Only in the case of moving from Windows to Mac, the switch is not quite as daunting. Macs can run Windows now. Office is available for Mac. Apple has it’s own productivity suit. However, most companies still would not make this switch. (NOTE: I did read where a company has made the switch from Windows to Mac, about 18,000 desktops.)
Reading the forum for this story is entertaining. The pro-Linux contingent came out in full force. Very entertaining.
For the record, I do not like or dislike Linux. It is just another operating system.