Just as the debate over whether Linux or Windows is cheaper to deploy and manage was threatening to become old hat, IBM on Wednesday fired the latest salvo by promoting two reports it sponsored that indicate Linux is significantly less expensive than Windows and Unix and that Linux usage brings with it a number of secondary benefits that add intangibles to the cost argument. IBM's Linux evangelism follows Microsoft's "Get The Facts" campaign last fall that insisted Windows was the clear cost leader.
When the Robert Frances Group study, titled "TCO For Application Servers: Comparing Linux With Windows And Solaris" and commissioned by IBM, compared the cost of acquiring, implementing, and running an application server on Linux, Windows, and Sun Solaris, it found that Linux is 40% less expensive than a comparable x86-based Windows server and 54% less than a comparable Sparc-based Solaris server. The Linux server's costs were $40,149, compared with $67,559 for Windows and $86,478 for Solaris.
Robert Frances Group interviewed IT executives involved with operating-system selection and purchase decisions at more than 20 midsize to large companies that have 250 or more employees. The research firm calculated hardware-acquisition costs, software license and maintenance costs, support and systems administration costs, and application-server support and system administration costs to come up with its numbers.
The biggest disparity in costs at this time comes from Linux's lack of licensing fees, Chad Robinson, principal analyst with Robert Francis Group, said Wednesday during an IBM roundtable. But other cost-of-ownership factors that weigh in favor of Linux, according to the report, include the crossover nature of Unix and Linux skills, as well as lower ongoing support and management costs and improvements in how customers manage their Linux systems.
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