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.
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.
"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."