Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Linux Zealots and Desktop Linux Summit 2006

I recently attended the Desktop Linux Summit 2006 in San Diego, California. This Conference really opened my eyes – and I don’t like what I saw. To me, this Conference was about Linux as the desktop operating system for business users. Most of the presenters were from companies that helped to sponsor the event. But a vast majority of the attendees were PC enthusiasts or eclectic consultants so the vendors didn’t get to meet their target market – IT decision makers, i.e. buyers, the ones who pull the purse strings. When some of the independent speakers, such as Geoffrey Moore or Rob Enderle, chided the Linux community for some of its faults, I saw many head shaking no and angry looks. In one of the break out session a consultant who has made his living on making open source software work for business mentioned the specific distro of Linux that he uses for the desktops & servers in his organization and you’d of thought he’d told someone to fuck off! There were five minute where he was peppered with aggressive questions about why he didn’t recommend this distro or why use that distro on the server. The consultant told the gathered audience that the distro he chose was best suited for his business. There were too many zealots there to have an open & honest discussion. There were cries about Microsoft being a monopoly and the purity of Linux - so what! For a business that makes money, it is all about money. Will I be able to do what I need to so I can make money by concentrating on my core competencies? That is what every business owner asks him or herself. Will it give the business a competitive advantage? No, Linux is just technology and technology is just a tool (hence its interchangeability). Will it make the business money? No, again its just technology. People and processes make a business money. Even if Wal-Mart had no computers in their stores, they’d still make money because of their people and processes. So the final question is, will it allow the business to save money? Maybe is the answer. You’ll have to phase over from the old system to the new one. You’ll have to train users from the old to the new. But, you might have to do that anyways. Depending on who you listen to, Microsoft could force its install base to upgrade to the latest and greatest software and operating systems. So a business will be paying to upgrade hardware so it can handle the new operating systems and applications. These new items have an unfamiliar interface so the business will have to train users on the new systems. And there are always the licensing fees you’ll pay to Microsoft on a yearly basis. So what if you keep your existing hardware, install a Linux distro whith full support from a commercial vendor (such as Novell, I was quite impressed with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10) as the desktop operating system? You will still pay licensing fees, but on average less and they’ll be for support for Linux. There will be training costs for the IT department, but you’d have these same costs with Windows. Linux is known for security and stability which can also cut down on support costs. So out of the three questions, Linux answered Yes to only one of them and that was a maybe.


1 comment:

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