The total cost of ownership (TCO) of Microsoft Windows for network administrators is widely acknowledged to exceed that of Unix-based systems, such as Linux and Solaris. System administrators with experience in multiple operating systems often recognize that Linux is less expensive to maintain, over the lifetime of the information system.
IBM has published two reports this week that support this opinion. One IBM report, TCO For Application Servers: Comparing Linux With Windows And Solaris, reports the TCO of a Linux application server over three years as $40,149. This is compared to a TCO for the same implementation of Windows at $67,559 and Solaris at $86,478. The costs included not only the immediate installation costs, but also the average transferability of administrator skill and the hardware architecture portability. Other benefits that IBM reported are the flexible licensing model of Linux, its support for a broad range of hardware platforms.
The second IBM report, Beyond TCO: The Unanticipated Second Stage Benefits Of Linux, addresses the skill-based benefits of deploying Unix, including Linux, These include the availability of knowledgeable IT workers. IBM reports that “Linux is enormously popular among IT staff members, many of whom are at the beginning of their careers, as well as with IT educators in universities and technical institutions worldwide. This has resulted in Linux playing a significant role in the recruitment and retention of IT staff and managers.”
The IBM reports, especially in regard to new administrator’s knowledge, are consistent with my experience as a university faculty member. The information technology and graduate business majors that I teach know about Linux and see the value in implementing it as a cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Windows, both for network and user applications.
To IT professionals: I strongly suggest that if you currently have only Windows experience that you expand your knowledge and experience. A broad technical knowledge puts you in good stead for increased professional responsibility. Start by downloading Knoppix Linux, a free download that runs from a bootable CD. As you become adept at the Linux operating system, install it in a dual-boot configuration with Microsoft Windows. I would not be surprised that, within a short period, you find yourself preferring the Linux environment and eschewing Windows.
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