Vendor Lock-In Cited as Cost of Windows over Linux

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-07-28 Print this article Print

"The essence of open is the avoidance of vendor lock-in," says an executive from a business technology advisory group, adding that your own cost-of-ownership analysis is the one you should really trust.

PORTLAND, Ore.—The business case for adopting Linux over Microsofts Windows is an economic decision, but not one where the total cost of ownership is a fundamental issue, an executive from a business technology advisory group told a session at the OReilly Open Source Convention (Oscon) here Tuesday afternoon. In his talk, titled "Linux Versus Windows: Business Perspectives," Peter Shay, executive vice president of the Advisory Council, said one fundamental business issue at hand is that the essence of "open" is the avoidance of vendor lock-in. In the long term, he said, the users of proprietary systems are at their vendors mercy. "The economic value of open lies in the ability for users to walk away from onerous vendor pricing or licensing, the negotiating leverage they have, and the ability to avoid vendor-unique extensions," Shay said.
Click here to read about Microsofts ad campaign against Linux.
Several research reports posted on Microsofts "Get the Facts" Web site showed the TCO (total cost of ownership) of Linux as higher than that for Windows, but the reports were based on widely differing assumptions, Shay said. Some industries such as financial services and health care—which are highly regulated and have all sorts of requirements about how they handle data and what they do with it—also have to evaluate their liability risk, he said. Shay noted an intellectual property risk to Linux users, as seen in SCOs lawsuit against IBM and others, as well as potential stealth patent risks. But he said the indemnification offered by some vendors helps offset the risk. Click here for an interview with SCO CEO Darl McBride on why he thinks the company can win its legal battles over Unix. "There are a lot of different factors that go into TCO, and the published reports make widely differing assumptions that may or may not pertain to your business. Do your own analysis," Shay said. "The essence of open is the avoidance of vendor lock-in. Do your own cost-of-ownership analysis and ignore the SCO legal actions as entertainment, nothing more," he urged. "But the available, current technical skills should be a major factor in your decision." Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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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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