Linux Allies Rebut Microsoft Get the Facts Campaign

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-02-13 Print this article Print

Two major Linux advocates have published a report aimed at rebutting Microsoft's "Get the Facts" research campaign claiming that Linux has a higher total cost of ownership than Windows.

The Open Source Development Labs and Linux firm Levanta are striking back at Microsofts anti-Linux "Get the Facts" research campaign. The Linux allies have published a 17-page research report entitled "Get the Truth on Linux Management" that challenges Redmonds claims that Linux has a higher TCO (total cost of ownership) and systems management costs than Windows.
The studys overall conclusion is that Linux may, in many cases, be substantially less expensive to own than Windows, Andi Mann, the senior analyst at EMA (Enterprise Management Associates) of Boulder, Colo., who conducted the research and wrote the report, told eWEEK in an interview.
"In various older studies, Microsoft and some analysts had claimed that Linux had a higher TCO than Windows and they attributed the difference mainly to higher system management costs, concluding that the higher TCO outweighed the much lower license and acquisition costs for Linux," he said. However, the EMA study found that this perception was no longer accurate as, with far lower acquisition costs, Linux was now a cost-effective alternative to Windows, he said. The study, which was conducted last fall and winter and will be released this week, was sponsored by Levanta, Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based company that focuses on Linux management and data virtualization, and OSDL, of Beaverton, Oregon. Stuart Cohen, the CEO of OSDL, told eWEEK in an interview that the study addressed a broad set of issues in real environments, contains current and timely data, and had findings that were consistent with what its global customer councils had been telling it. "We thought this was worthwhile and a valuable way to bring customer confidence to people deploying Linux, which was why we agreed to sponsor it," he said. Matt Mossman, the CEO of Levanta, said the company had engaged EMA to do the research and then entered into an agreement with OSDL after that for co-sponsorship. Last fall the company had introduced a systems management appliance and that moved it from dealing with pure data center people "who have always laughed off the TCO FUD associated with Linux because they knew it didnt work like that," Mossman said. With the appliance on the market, Levanta started to run into people who had bought that line. "We had specific customers who questioned Linux and believed it might be difficult to manage. But when we questioned them, they said this was not their experience, but rather what they had read," Mossman said. "So it became apparent to us that we should get out with the truth about whether Linux was hard to manage now and if it had ever been hard to manage. But it is important for people to know that it is not hard to manage." For his part, Martin Taylor, the general manager of platform strategy at Microsoft told eWEEK that he was "excited to see the OSDL join Microsoft in working to deliver insights and facts we know customers need to help inform their IT decisions." The primary EMA research surveyed a random sample of several thousand IT organizations by telephone, and over one hundred self-selected Web respondents. Microsoft challenges Linuxs legacy claims. Click here to read more. "The study was skewed towards Linux users as we were not looking to survey primarily Windows customers, but rather Linux customers and their experiences," Mann said. It was supplemented with interviews with selected CIOs and IT managers at companies ranging in size from small data centers of less than 20 servers to those with more than 1,000 servers globally and across a wide variety of large Linux and mixed environments. "The genesis for this research study was not a head-to-head comparison with Microsoft. The goal was simply to measure and analyze the effort required to manage Linux systems," Mann said. In the study, EMA analyzed the cost factors cited in previous studies and canvassed more than 200 enterprises. It determined that organizations were managing their Linux environments more cost effectively and reliably than previously reported. Next Page: Comparing the results.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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