Linux Allies Rebut Microsoft Get the Facts Campaign

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.

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"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.