As Microsoft Corp. has acknowledged more than once, the company is losing business to Linux deployments. But the story doesnt end there. Some large enterprises have taken the Linux challenge only to switch back to Windows, dissatisfied with the open-source alternative.
Problems with application incompatibilities, poor performance, escalating support costs and an immature Linux ecosystem lead the list of complaints executives at two companies that have completed the switch from Linux back to Windows cited recently.
Personal care products maker Combe Inc., of White Plains, N.Y., developed and administered its Web sites with an ISP running a Linux-Oracle platform about nine years ago and started the switch back to Windows two years ago.
"We will not be looking at Linux in the near future," said Combe CIO Tim Case. "Even though [Linux] has moved into the realm of a production-level system and may become a competitor to Microsoft, that is just not the case where global support and robust development are required."
Combe was initially wary about its sites running on Linux, but it moved to offset that risk by making sure its provider contract had built-in service-level agreements. Case said he was surprised by how well the system worked, but Linux became an issue when Combes Web applications needed a database, and the only option available to the company was one from Oracle Corp.
Case also was concerned that his company did not have appropriate in-house Linux expertise. Those concerns were proved worthwhile two years ago when the ISP gave Combe two weeks notice that it was closing its doors.
Luckily, Combe had already begun investigating alternative ISPs. Not long after, Combe turned to Microsoft Certified Partner Alpine Business Systems, of Somerville, N.J., to help migrate its Web sites to Windows Server 2003, Internet Information Services 6.0 and SQL Server 2000.
The move to Windows was "seamless and efficient. The costs to move were minimal as compared with the alternative of developing a new set of sites," Case said. "We have not had an outage in two years, where before we experienced downtime at least two to three times a year. We have also lowered our TCO [total cost of ownership]."