Yankee Independently Pits Windows TCO vs. Linux TCO

In one of the first non-Microsoft-funded total-cost-of-ownership studies by a major market-research firm, Windows still comes on strong.

On the heels of several Microsoft-sponsored studies evaluating the total cost of ownership (TCO) of Windows vs. Linux, The Yankee Group has performed its own independent research on the same topic. And the findings are somewhat similar: Linux provides smaller companies with customized vertical applications or who have no legacy networks with better TCO than Windows.

But for the vast majority of customers — and especially those that are already Windows shops — Windows still offers better TCO value, according to the Yankee/Sunbelt Software study, which is due to be published this week.

Yankee surveyed 1,000 IT administrators and "C-level" executives worldwide over the Web. The researchers then followed up with many of the participants via in-depth phone question-and-answer sessions, according to Laura DiDio, the senior researcher and primary analyst on the study.

"Corporate customers report Linux does indeed provide businesses with excellent performance, reliability, ease of use and security," said DiDio in her executive summary. But "hype notwithstanding, Linux technical merits while first-rate, are equivalent but not superior to Unix and Windows Server 2003.

"And in large enterprises, a significant Linux deployment or total switch from Windows to Linux, would be three to four times more expensive and take three times as long to deploy as an upgrade from one version of Windows to newer Windows releases," the study found.

In terms of TCO tradeoffs, "theres a clear bifurcation between the high and low ends of the market," DiDio said. Nonetheless, "everyone has a Linux strategy...even if it is just to use Linux as a stone to throw at Microsoft."

The study found that despite the growing number of accounts of companies reevaluating Windows as a result of security concerns or other issues, most large enterprises will stick with their current Windows (or Unix) operating systems and not switch to Linux.

Yankee found that 4 percent of Unix customers and 11 percent of Windows businesses plan to replace all of their servers with Linux. And less than 5 percent of organizations will replace their Windows desktops with Linux.

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