Analysts join Microsoft on Linux cost warning

Analysts join Microsoft on Linux cost warning

It seems that it isn't only Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who believes that the cost of using open-source operating system Linux over commercial OSes is greatly underestimated.

Ballmer highlighted the costs of using cheaper software alternatives such as Linux and Sun Microsystems' StarOffice during a recent visit to Sydney. He considered them both to be "clones" of much superior Microsoft software and are expensive to maintain and support.

The criticism comes at a time when several Federal Government departments have begun deploying Linux in their back office, while several of the country's largest corporations are trialling both Linux and the StarOffice suite.

But analyst organisation Meta Group has come to the defence of its commercial vendor sponsors, claiming that Linux may be "free" but it certainly comes at a price.

"The heightened interest in Linux within the Asia-Pacific region is being driven by the belief that Linux is cheaper than Windows or Unix as a server operating system," said a recent Meta Group advisory bulletin.

"Although Linux itself is nominally free, its support and maintenance are not, and the OS is only about 3 per cent of total solution costs in enterprise applications."

The analyst group claims the one-time saving on licensing costs for the OS does not outweigh the costs involved with managing multiple operating systems.

"To avoid repeating the 1990s mistakes in comparing MVS (mainframe) and Unix total cost of ownership, IT organisations must ensure that they are comparing apples to apples," the report said.

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