Microsofts New Linux Salvo: IT Interoperability

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-02-03 Print this article Print

Microsoft on Tuesday released the findings of another survey—one that it sponsored and the participants of which received frequent flyer points—this time touting the company's focus on IT interoperability when compared with its open-source compe

Microsoft Corp. looks to be turning its pitch away from the total cost of ownership comparisons between Windows and open-source Linux, and is now tackling the thorny issue of interoperability. The Redmond, Wash., software firm on Tuesday released the findings of a Jupiter Research Consulting survey, which it commissioned and paid for, titled "Interoperability Needs of IT Professionals." This self-described "unbiased research study" of 800 IT decision-makers at U.S.-based companies with annual revenues of at least $10 million—who were also awarded frequent flyer points as an incentive for taking the survey—found that Microsoft is ranked as the most interoperable vendor and technology provider within the customers existing IT environment.
It also found that some 79 percent of those IT managers surveyed ranked Windows interoperability as the most important factor for them when considering adopting new technologies. In contrast, just 43 percent of those surveyed said interoperability with Unix systems is critical when selecting new technologies, 22 percent cited Linux, 20 percent chose Solaris, and 18 percent the mainframe.
This survey is the latest in a string of Microsoft-sponsored research reports that form the core of its "Get the Facts" campaign, designed to show the merits of Windows over Linux. But this "objective third-party research and facts," much of which is paid for or sponsored by Microsoft itself, has not always been that well-received. In fact, after Forrester Researchs Giga Information Group unit went public in September with a research study that was paid for by Microsoft and found that Microsoft offered a cost advantage over J2EE/Linux as a development platform for certain portal-type applications, the research firm later said it would no longer publicize any similar future studies. To read the full story on Gigas research study, click here. Of the 800 survey respondents in this latest interoperability survey, more than half (54 percent) were from enterprises with revenue of more than $1 billion a year, while some 74 percent worked for companies with more than 1,000 employees. In addition, some 39 percent of respondents described themselves as a pure Microsoft shop, while 36 percent said they had a mixed environment, 15 percent said they were an IBM shop, 5 percent primarily used Unix, 4 percent Solaris and just 1 percent Linux. According to the Jupiter survey, some 72 percent of respondents ranked Microsoft as the most interoperable within their existing IT environment, followed by Oracle Corp. at 68 percent "given the importance of database interoperability," IBM at 63 percent, Sun Microsystems at 57 percent, with Hewlett-Packard Co. and Linux supporters tied at 55 percent, the survey said. But the survey also showed the strength of the Oracle database, with 67 percent of those taking the survey saying that it was most important for any new technology to interoperate with the Oracle database. Also 61 percent said Microsofts SQL Server database was the most important and 32 percent called out IBMs DB2. Among the key goals of interoperability for those surveyed were the streamlining of business processes and the resultant increased productivity, a lower TCO by reducing administration and development costs, and leveraging existing technology assets. Among the key challenges of interoperability identified by the surveys respondents were the integration of existing applications and databases and the need to achieve "sufficient security." Portability ranked fairly low on the list of priorities, with just 21 percent declaring that this was a priority for their companies. Next Page: The key to interoperability? Applications.

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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