Yankee Group: Linux doesn't save money

Although Linux delivers first-rate technical performance it's not superior to either Unix or Microsoft Corp.'s Windows and swapping either of those for Linux could actually work out to be more expensive, according to a report from The Yankee Group.

A survey of over 1,000 information technology administrators and company executives showed that replacing either Windows or Unix by Linux only saves money in small engineering or scientific firms with customized applications used by technically knowledgeable people, or where newer networks were being deployed. The study was sponsored by Sunbelt Software, a major provider of tools and utilities for Windows operating systems, including NT, 2000 and XP.

"In large enterprises, a significant Linux deployment or total switch from Windows to Linux would be three to four times more expensive, and take three times as long to deploy, as an upgrade from one version of Windows to newer Windows releases," said Laura DiDio, Yankee Group's application infrastructure and software platforms senior analyst.

A huge majority of the 300 large enterprises of 10,000 or more end-users that were surveyed believe a significant or total switch to Linux would be prohibitively expensive. Just 4 percent of Unix customers and 11 percent of Windows users plan to replace servers with Linux, the survey found, and less than 5 percent of all organizations expect to replace their Windows desktop with Linux.

Perhaps an even bigger bite in the Linux vs. Windows debate is the study's finding that Linux is not a long-term guard against security problems. Although it is considered somewhat more secure than Windows, Linux is expected to come under increasing hacker scrutiny in the future and companies seem to prefer sticking with the devil they know.

All in all, according to DiDio, Linux is unlikely to make much of a dent in the Windows market share over the next couple of years, and it could be another five years before open source operating system gets a real chance.

Brian Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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