About Those TCO Numbers You See

Friday, 2007-February-02 at 01:11

This is old news. A 2004 study [PDF] compared the cost of a 250-user business network with downloaded Linux, purchased “Enterprise Linux”, and Windows. Even after the consultants intentionally weighted the scale in Microsoft Windows’ favor, the cost came out significantly higher to go with Windows than with Linux.

IAPS, another consulting firm, uses Yankee Group analyst Laura Didio’s reports to show that Windows, Linux, and Unix are roughly equal in maintenance costs, reliability, and downtime. They also say that there is no TCO reason to switch from Windows to Linux.

Honestly, TCO is a very squishy concept. Two nearly identical environments may have different TCOs based on whether they are doing a new install or considering a change from an existing environment, and what purposes they are using the servers to accomplish, or even what skills their administrators already have. All of these studies can serve only as starting points to use in evaluating the costs of deployment in your organization over a period of a set number of years. Since none of us can accurately predict the future, TCO is also going to be unable to give one a definite answer, however, the cost of security woes, license tracking, and the initial purchase price means that Windows has a large cost imbalance to overcome.

Because of this, reading the case studies on the Get The FUD site won’t really help you make a good decision for your organization. In the first place, it is not even clear that these companies really did save money by choosing a particular operating system over another, even if they saved money over their prior systems. Secondly, we have already noted that every company is different.

In any case, your IT staff will likely have to remove several services (or daemons) and applications from the default installation. Since you do not want to suffer security breaches, it is necessary to remove everything that could possibly be used to breach your systems, excepting those applications and services that are intentionally being used.  Among other things, this dramatically reduces patching and security response costs.

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