Linux TCO with Eyes Open

IBM published an overview of two recent Linux TCO studies. One of the studies was done by the Robert Frances Group and the other by a group called Pund-IT Inc. Unlike another recent attention-getting study, these found the cost results were in Linux’s favour. I haven’t seen the actual studies so I don’t know much about the methodology they used but it seems one was done by surveying twenty companies regarding their application servers, while the other was an in-depth review of three specfic companies, each in a different industry. They concluded that the Linux deployments were significantly lower in TCO.

After the overview, the article provides an interview with the reports’ authors. One point that I thought was insightful came from RFG’s Chad Robinson. In discussing good and bad Linux deployments, he mentioned

“The people that go into Linux with their eyes open tend to be the most successful, because they don’t try to make Linux fit the old model. When you deploy Linux, it’s not enough to just to put a new operating system out there, because you’ve added an operating system to your mix, and that increases complexity. If you just drop Linux in as a replacement and you expect it to behave exactly the same way that your old operating system did, then you’re going to do a little worse than a little better.”

I think that makes a lot of sense. I frequently read articles that talk about advantages or disadvantages to deploying Linux, maybe whenever discussing these advantages or disadvantages there should also be a discussion on the ways these relate to and change the existing work environment. One might make a transportation analogy. Say, I have a car that I sometimes drive to work. Yet there is a cultural push to start riding bicycles instead. Perhaps this could be viewed as adding complexity because the roads must accommodate cars and bikes. However, when I ride a bicycle, I never go to a gas station to guzzle at the pump, it would be pointless (well if I was already feeling pointless I might make this a different story and have sip or two). The two different modes of transportation do not have the same requirements. The advantages of one (it reduces pollution and saves money) would be counteracted if everyone stuck to the same old, unnecessary model by guzzling gas from atop their bicycles. Quite a catastrophe.

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