Linux, Windows in Tight Race for Enterprise Customers

Linux is gaining momentum as a complimentary server presence in Windows networks, according to the “Linux-Windows 2005 TCO Comparison Survey” released by the Yankee Group today.

The report states that more than 50 percent of companies surveyed said they plan to install Linux in parallel with, or in addition to, existing Windows operating systems.

“This survey not only sheds important new light into the battle waged between Windows and Linux, but also into the evolution of the server market,” said Laura DiDio, Yankee Group senior analyst. “While researching the market traction for each vendor, we discovered that server operating systems are largely commoditized.”

Security Issues

As companies continue to weigh the security advantages of each operating system, the Yankee Group found that users rated security of Linux and Windows Servers to be nearly equal.

“Corporate users report a high degree of satisfaction with the baseline performance and reliability of all of the major server operating systems — Linux, Windows and UNIX,” DiDio said. “Today, applications and services are the primary drivers that positively or negatively influence TCO costs, advantages and risks.”

While respondents said that Windows servers recover 30 percent faster from security attacks than Linux servers, they also indicated that the hourly cost of Windows downtime was three to four times higher than that of Linux server downtime, mainly because there is presently more crucial corporate data stored on Windows servers.

It’s Not About the Platform

Directions on Microsoft Lead Analyst Michael Cherry told LinuxInsider that he’s not overly surprised by the report. Customers are no longer making blanket comparisons between operating systems, he said, but looking at task-to-task comparisons instead.

“When companies do a task-to-task comparison they are finding both operating systems are able to handle the workload,” Cherry said. “Companies that know how to manage technologies will have a low TCO and will do well with whatever technology they pick.”

To put it bluntly, Cherry said companies that don’t know how to manage technology are going to struggle regardless of what operating system they pick.

“If you try to force an application to run on a platform that it isn’t designed for, then you are probably not going to be happy,” he said. “But if somebody has done the work to tune the application for that platform, then it’s probably going to be a good selection.”

Microsoft Predicted to Reign

The survey also revealed that the majority of SMB and enterprise customers deploying Windows Server 2003 find its quality, performance and reliability equal to or better than Linux.

DiDio said this perception, combined with Microsoft’s extensive installed base, makes it difficult for Linux to displace Windows Server, Windows XP or Office in the SMB or enterprise markets.

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