Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Cybersource recently released a study comparing operating costs of businesses running Linux with those running MS products. Here the CEO explains how the study was designed and what it means.
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Re: Linux Saves Money and umm some numbers...

Anonymous's picture

This article (PDF) is a nice start on the sorts of TP calculations that need to be done to push computer systems into the enterprise, however it leaves out user training. As a real world example, you will need to factor in both training for the new system, and productivity loss for users unfamiliar with the new system.

Specifically: The reason MSO has a lock on the office market is that all office workers "know" MSO. (Reality is irrelivant, they think they have assimilated ...) The fact that a half dead zombie can figure out most of OpenOffice (writer?) from being familiar with either MSWord, or Documentation principles is irrelivant. You will need to send most users to training to move them to another office productivity solution. If they stay with MS, the only new thing they need to know is how to kill clippy. (Yes, I am suggesting that most new features of a new MS office will be unused unless you get sharepoint.)

Unrolling my handy TPulator:

250 users who need the basics of x new Productivity apps: assume x=2 (write & spread), 25 users/class, 8 hours/class: 10 training sessions of 8 hours: one trainer & one tech: average near $30/hr (am assuming internal staff), perhaps $3K in staff costs + equipment rental and setup costs.

Now figure out how to calculate productivity loss for the next six months while someone whines and moans.

In addition: 50 users for a modern server is a croc. Assuming a terminal server (MS type) you should be able to get about 50 users (with mso) to use office on a P4 2GHz. Someone needs to do a real calculation for this so the analysis is not laughed at.

Using this survey as a base, and my trusty TPulator: Linux will save an organization MOVING to it on the order of 15% over a few years. ASSUMING all applications have equal availibility. (COINCIDENTALLY THIS IS WHAT MS CLAIMS FOR TS)

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

What would be the result if the staff wages and consultant fees were divided by about three? I live in Argentina, and our salaries remain constant in pesos, our local currency that has suffered a devaluation to one third of its original value, but Microsoft software prices remain in dollars. I think that in this scenario Linux has a greater advantage.

Responses to the latest batch of questions

ConZymaris's picture

1) Anon. stated:

There are only 250 users! 1 Win2K server can easily handle this. Even get two for full redundancy and employ MS AppCenter. Same for Linux, hardware cost for both should be reduced equally for this overkill. Take $15,000 off the MS total for the unneeded Advanced Server licenses.

- - -

We used the generally accepted norm of 50 file-print users per server, and sized the servers accordingly. In essence, the less hardware costs you put in the calculations, the cheaper Linux comes out.

2) Shawn stated:

Why does only the Microsoft solution get an industry leading, enterprise capable database solution? Lets tack on Oracle for the Linux solution as Oracle was good enough to port it for us. Add approx $100K to the Linux totals. Plus an Oracle DBA to run the beast.

- -

We didn't just throw databases into the equtation for the fun of it. The commerce and portal servers from Microsoft mandate the SQL Servers, thus their inclusion. For Linux, there was a need for PostgreSQL and MySQL, which is what the ecommerce and portal software mandated, thus thier inclusion into the study.

3) Anon. stated:

Say $25,000 for a top of the line package with MS-Exchange integration, inbound DID routing, OCR capabilities, integrated workflow, least cost routing, Outlook integration, Brooktrout support etc. Installed. Hey anybody know where I can find equivalent in Linux? Anyone wanna provide a quote on assembling, writing and installing the same on Linux?

- -

In over 11 years of servicing 300+ customers of many sizes, we have not encountered this as a business requirement. Not even for massive organisations. If email fax intetgration was needed, then we could have added the $25,000 that you state onto the Microsoft platform side of the equation, and Hylafax ($0) onto the Linux side.

4) Anon. stated:

Commerce SErver? Subtract 13K$

I dont see what the MS Commerce Server is for. Is this for the Company web site? Its probably $13,000 of unneccessary cost. And it indicates

that SQL server is included in it, so presumably, you dont need SQL server as well.

- -

Many 250+ sized organisations have a products and service online marketing and sales delivery platform: an e-commerce server. We added one in for both Linux and the Microsoft optioned models.

5 File and Print servers is ludicrous!

Anonymous's picture

There are only 250 users! 1 Win2K server can easily handle this. Even get two for full redundancy and employ MS AppCenter. Same for Linux, hardware cost for both should be reduced equally for this overkill.

Take $15,000 off the MS total for the unneeded Advanced Server licenses.

Linux Shortchanged!!!!

Anonymous's picture

Why does only the Microsoft solution get an industry leading, enterprise capable database solution?

Lets tack on Oracle for the Linux solution as Oracle was good enough to port it for us.

Add approx $100K to the Linux totals. Plus an Oracle DBA to run the beast.

Shawn

Re: Linux Shortchanged!!!!

Anonymous's picture

Even better, why not stick on MySQL for free!

Re: Linux Shortchanged!!!!

Anonymous's picture

UNFAIR! Free the source, man!

Lets add FAXing!

Anonymous's picture

Say $25,000 for a top of the line package with MS-Exchange integration, inbound DID routing, OCR capabilities, integrated workflow, least cost routing, Outlook integration, Brooktrout support etc. Installed.

Hey anybody know where I can find equivalent in Linux? Anyone wanna provide a quote on assembling, writing and installing the same on Linux?

have you ever seen about Groupwise?

Anonymous's picture

are you speaking about groupworking or about only fax managing?
if you speak about groupworking have a look to the original application that have created the idea of groupworking and you can discover that now it works over linux environment: Novell Groupwise do everything Exchange want to do, and a lot of times do it better. and do much more things than exchange.

if you are speaking about faxes, look a little bit around more than a base hylafax solution: you can be surprised of how many different solution for different needing you can find...

Biscom has a fax server which

Anonymous's picture

Biscom has a fax server which will do all that.

Re: Lets add FAXing!

Anonymous's picture

Try VSI-FAX by Esker. We receive and send over 7000 thousand faxes a day on this thing and has never hiccupped once since we migrated the package off of NT and onto Linux!

It has several clients one of which works with Outlook. It can also handle fax submissions and responses in XML. We use this to send and feed fax info to and from our Oralce 9i databases. Everything has a price... you are correct. By the time you add the hadware components and the fax port licenses for an enterprise fax system you are probably near $25k.

http://www.esker.com/esker_com/products/vsifax_home.html

Missing Costs

Anonymous's picture

I think there should be some end user training costs in there. Unless we can assume knowledge of MS and Open office (no way).

The MS Training would probably be something like .5 day of novice training for 100 users at $200 per. 1 day of advanced training for 150 users at $1000.

Im having a little trouble finding Open Office training at my local training facilities though.

Commerce SErver? Subtract 13K$

Anonymous's picture

I dont see what the MS Commerce Server is for. Is this for the Company web site? Its probably $13,000 of unneccessary cost. And it indicates that SQL server is included in it, so presumably, you dont need SQL server as well.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

Good job on the cost side, except perhaps where companies are given discounts for volume purchases. This could reduce the cost of the Windows install, and does not benefit the Linux side at all.

The largest missing cost I see is the learning cost for employees. Immediately after a switch, average employee productivity will fall, as workers spend time learning the new system, rather than performing their tasks. In the long run, it will reach the same level (and possibly higher, but this is speculation). However, in a highly competitive business environment, if your firm is unable to satisfy customer requests because your workers can't figure out the system, business will be lost. Office compatible software helps, but does not eliminate the learning cost altogether.

John.

No, John. No need for doom and gloom

Anonymous's picture

Throwing good money after bad will cost. Switching to Linux from Windows will be cheaper in the long run.

I have switched people from using Mac systems to Linux in relatively short time. Most of the current popular Linux apps already emulate MS apps in terms of menus and short cuts. The task of conversion is not insurmountable.

Darryl

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

While it will cost money to retrain employees to use Linux applications, you will ultimately save substantial money over the constant retraining required with MS' gratuitous changes for each new release. Each new release of Windows, for example, has new management tools, new network naming schemes, etc., REPLACING the older ones (probably because the older ones, e.g., NetBIOS names, were badly designed in the first place). Meanwhile, the Unix skills I learned running UTX/32 (Unix on a Gould minicomputer) in 1985 are still good! In moving to Linux, I had to learn how to use only the NEW applciations, e.g., Apache, Samba, StarOffice. The difference in the amount of untraining and retraining required can amount to quite a bit of money.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

Since I am a pubblic school teacher, a 250 computer setup seems to fit the bill. So let me tell you briefly about school districts.

1) the district level technician who came into my classroom to install the nov(h)ell client on the piece of s*** winbox i have to use to do attendance and grades couldn't figure out how my laptop running linux could access the internet in my clasroom since "novell doesn't support linux".

2) It is almost two years that we have had a blade server down in the server room hooked into the MDF yet no student has server space due to license costs. When i suggested a samba solution, that i would take care of, they said "our network doesn't support linux".

I could go on. simple reason for this idiocy. they don't know linux, and are protecting their turf. they don't care about our school's needs, nor our budget, they care about their own asses.

studies like this will help a great deal to convince the pols at the schoolboards to use open source solutions.

rob mandel

Big educational discounts from MS

Anonymous's picture

When you tack on the educational discounts available from Microsoft, its a no-brainer.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

brianlane's picture

Get the kids involved! It would be a great project for them to take idle hardware and convert it to something useful. Hmm, but then you might be accused of tampering with the schools computers and tossed in jail, so make sure you get permission first :>

Brian

Re: Give this to the CFO!

ConZymaris's picture

Rob, please print out copies of this document, and send them to all fiance and executive managers in your schoold district. That's the only way to get movement. This study is not intended for IT managers.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

Good Job!

It is this kind of information, that which appeals to business decision-makers, that wil make the difference in Linux adoption. I am also pleased that the focus was on small (250 staff) businesses becuase this is the area of greatest promise for Linux!

Re: Good job!

Anonymous's picture

It is this kind of information, that which appeals to business decision-makers, that wil make the difference in Linux adoption. I am also pleased that the focus was on small (250 staff) businesses becuase this is the area of greatest promise for Linux!

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

Something you forgot to include in your comparison is the cost of converting existing documents into formats that are compatible with Linux applications, which could be a substantial amount of time and money. If there were free Linux applications available that were MS Office compatible then problem solved! Maybe that's where open source applications developers should focus their attention.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

That is the great problem that collaborators LINUX had still not perceived.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

Check out Lindows...

http://www.lindows.com

You can loose the OS license fee but still use Office.

OpenOffice solves that problem neatly

Anonymous's picture

With the free Open Office or the big brother with support Star Office you can read and write all the MS offices files. If you convert them to the new file formats you will even save a hard disc or two in file size reduction..

Re: OpenOffice solves that problem neatly

Anonymous's picture

I tried openoffice, Staroffice, abiword and koffice all these aplications has few problem when it comes to graphs, block digrams and flow chart created using MS office and few applications tend to even crash the pc when tried to open large files(i tried to open rfc) and consume a lot of resources.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

you mean like openoffice.org, abiword and koffice? (although OpenOffice.org has probably got the best MS Office filters at present).

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, right--I tried both Staroffice and OpenOffice, and they balked on simple Excel spreadsheets and screwed up Word documents. Compatibility is NOT there yet, by any means. If this is the best the Linux world has to offer, forget it. At this point, I think the Codeweavers approach of running REAL Microsoft Office within Linux is the only acceptable approach for those of us who have no choice but the be "Microsoft Office" interchangeable--though I can't personally vouch for its effectiveness, as I haven't tried it yet.

what version of openoffice have you tried?

Anonymous's picture

i've seen the problems that you've write in OO 1.0, but it was completely patched in 1.1 version of OopenOffice. have you tried it? i open Office documents in a day-by-day basis and i'vent any problem in formatting after the upgrade...

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

How about Staroffice or Openoffice? Both seem to have no problem in dealing with M$ Office file formats...

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

StarOffice and Open Office may deal with simple documents well, but when I looked at them conversion of complex Word documents was poor. The reality for many organisations may not live up to the hype, losing potential converts. Realistic appraisals are needed not wishful thinking.

Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

No corporation buys a PC just to browse the web, exchange emails, or write a simple document. Corps buy PCs to help run their business. This means custom apps. This means someone must write them. There is an army of Windows programmers out there (be it VB or Powerbuilder or C# or whatever else), willing to write whatever you need for a reasonable cost. I work in a large corp (biggest bank in the world) and I know about 20 programmers that work here. Not one of them knows anything about linux programming, KDevelop, gcc or whatever else. I am sure you can find linux programmers out there, but they'll be more expensive (due to there being less of them, thus they can charge more). Besides no one develops business solutions in low-level languages like C, or even C++. Business world has moved on to Rad languages like VB.

So facts are as follows: while it is cheaper initially to replace Windows with Linux , it will cost you in the long term as far as cost of creating software for your business.

As far as using Linux desktops as Web Clients, that really is cheaper. So if your business software is web-based - there is very little reason to buy windows.

The only hope for making Linux as viable for the business desktop and custom solutions is C#. I hope it becomes successful and Miquel delivers his piece: this way you'll have all the people that are good at microsoft tools be equally good on Linux.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

>So facts are as follows: while it is cheaper >initially to replace Windows with Linux , it will cost >you in the long term as far as cost of creating >software for your business.

Not true.

Most graduates coming out of Uni have more experience programming in a Unix/Linux environment than a Microsoft one. Also, many skills of an experienced MS programmer are interchangeable with freely available Linux software, i.e. PHP, Python, C++. Programmers also have easy access to this software because it's free, easily obtainable and has no license restrictions. With a bit of experimentation, it wouldn't take a VB programmer long to pick up something like python and tcl, or a Cold Fusion programmer to pick up PHP, SQL programmer to pick up Postgresql, etc, etc.

Steve Batson

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

As a consultant in Portland I work with lots of different kinds of businesses, and I would say that there are in fact a lot of businesses whose primary computer usage is email and office applications (I certainly wouldn't call a bank typical in this respect).

While client-server applications which required Windows clients have been a common development paradigm for years, they are rapidly losing favor. This is not really due to the high cost of Windows machines so much as the high cost of help desk staff, who have to install, upgrade, and troubleshoot all those clients. Many people are switching to web-hosted apps, which of course means that a Linux client can run them as well as Windows.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

The major point you missed is that this study is for companies with only 250 people. You aren't going to have 20 developers in a company that size unless that's the business they're in. Companies that size will generally use off the shelf software instead of in-house development. That's where software vendors are going to score big. That's how Microsoft did it. They initially supplied to a large number of small companies before tackling the big enterprises.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture


> There is an army of Windows programmers out there

> (be it VB or Powerbuilder or C# or whatever else),

> willing to write whatever you need for a reasonable

> cost. I work in a large corp (biggest bank in the

> world) and I know about 20 programmers that work

> here. Not one of them knows anything about linux

> programming, KDevelop, gcc or whatever else. I am

> sure you can find linux programmers out there, but

> they'll be more expensive (due to there being less

> of them, thus they can charge more).

Actually this is a misconception. There are just as many Linux developers as there are WinXX developers and the numbers are growing for Linux while remaining stagnent for WinXX. The main reason for this is that a vast majority of programmers coming out of University are coming up as Linux coders.

Your comment about business development being VB and such... Not for anything more than little non-production office/department tools. Business development is still done (get ready to cough) COBOL.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

And those people make bad applications if they cannot make most of them web based. If you really wan't that stuff you can use Kylix or even better Python which is easy and portable. The biggest problem in a BIG business is communication and Fat client side applications are a nightmare. Most new applications are web based with scripting or Java on the backend. FYI I work at a 40 billion+ corp. I like PHP but we are J2EE hog wild over here. Server side applications are easy to deploy, maintain, does not leave idle hardware around, uses less disk, simple version control and web based does not mean simple request response since all the application servers can maintain statefulness just fine. And there is no need to go to your cube to run your little application....and on and on. PC is great for home use but a total waste of money in a business setting that should have been thin client from the start.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

Delphi/Kylix i think is more well placed than C# and is much better RAD than VB... (may be also more widely used)

also FireBird (open-source version of Interbase) is very good pleace where u can move your Access & MS SQL data...

In fact Interbase run on many OSes plus in usa-army in a tank (i think it was M1 or something) and has many benefits comared to MS SQL..

Also u have a choice there is PostgreSQL and MySQL if u want...

Re: Custom Built Apps

ConZymaris's picture

Costing for such custom-built apps is not feasible for the document we have done. There is also no metric to indicate that Windows developers are faster or more cost effective than Linux/Unix developers. If anything, our experience indicates that for long term, design, develop, debug and maintain projects, Linux/Unix wins.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

Why C#?

C# is mostly just a ripoff of Java. Further, C# is new while Java is mature. C# may one day be cross platform while Java already is.

Finally, you can code in Delphi/Kylix on Linux as well as Java and not have to deal with c++ or gcc.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

Why C#?

Easy. There will be an army of developers who will know C# on MS tools and easily switch to implementation of C# on other platform. In addition, the Mono implementation of it will be open-source, which you can't say for Java.

I agree that C# is new and not as mature as Java, but it has been in heavy testing for two years now. Many web sites run it, several huge infrastructure pieces have been written in it (.NET framework, .NET compact framework, Mono, FreeBSD implementation of .NET), so it is safe to say that it is "safe"

Why not Java?

Because, in spite of "write once, run anywhere", it doesn't, and when it does, it doesn't compare to native code.

Finally, if you think that C# is just a ripoff of Java, you haven't looked at it closely enough.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

"Easy. There will be an army of developers who will know C# on MS tools"

Forseeing the future. Are you a psychic?

"In addition, the Mono implementation of it will be open-source, which you can't say for Java."

Kaffe is an open-source java, so yes you can say there is an open-source java much the same as mono.

"I agree that C# is new and not as mature as Java, but it has been in heavy testing for two years now."

Seeing as the language features still hadn't been decided by late 2000 how has it been in testing for 2 years.

"Finally, if you think that C# is just a ripoff of Java, you haven't looked at it closely enough".

Java is a garbage-collected object-oriented language with C++-like syntax implementing only single inheritance that runs on top of virtual machine. C# is a garbage-collected object-oriented language with C++-like syntax implementing only single inheritance that runs on top of virtual machine. Big difference there. There are some innovations in C# however. They have finally changed the C/C++/Java 'main' function to 'Main'.

Re: Article misses the point.

Anonymous's picture

I beg to differ. First, you are living in a media-managed recent past, where there is a mass shortage of Linux programmers. There are today as much as 5 times as many Linux programmers as only 3 years ago. The rate of adoption is also increasing among YOUNG programmers. That's the key, any typical anti-establishment teen ain't gonna learn to program on Windows when he could program Linux. Espeially now that so many jobs are available..

Second, you forget the thousands of UNIX developers out there who control the world outside of the corporate office, in places like datacenters, large server installations, etc. These guys are empowered more than ever to push their technology across that growing category of services.

Third, you disregard the MASSIVE push my computer manufacturers (OEMs) like IBM, Sun, HP, etc. to get Linux in their offerings, and the MASSIVE rush by vendors to get their applications ported to Linux. They are doing the hard work in convincing bosses, and their integration partners (read: custom software developers) to move systems to Linux. It won't happen all at once, but there are only a few major custom software companies doing most of the work for large enterpises.

P.S. EVERYONE seems to forget that HALF of the IT market is among small and midsize businesses that grow into large ones. In my view, it will be those businesses who adpot Linux for cost reasons that really drive its adoption into large enterprise.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

Here's one of the major holdups:

Vertical apps. Big stuff that is extremely expensive to change. (6 figure software cost, etc). Many are only supported on other unices (Solaris, AIX, HP-UX) or "business class" Windows. (NT, Win2K, XPPro.) If it is just a server, that's not so bad. What is worse is when they have windows-only clients. You either have to try to beg for a different client, try to finnaggle the client with WINE, or suck it up and keep windows on the desktop. Sucks, but true.

But keep it up... the more desktops there are, the more these providers will have to consider offering solutions on linux, or at least client software that'll run on it.

Re: Re Big Stuff

ConZymaris's picture

You mention:

Big stuff that is extremely expensive to change. (6 figure software cost, etc).

Remember, this is a 250-staff company. None of these firms that we have seen run multi-million dollar software items.

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

brianlane's picture

What exactly are these 'vertical apps' that people always seem to reference? Who wrote them? What do they do? We can't port 'em if we don't know anything about them.

My involvement with apps here at work (as an Embedded Systems Software Developer) amounts to:

Acrobat, Word and text Documents, email, spreadsheets, and development tools. Only the development tools can't be duplicated on a Linux desktop at the moment.

We (software developers) need to know what the business world needs for a move to Linux, and I'd bet that alot of us have never had any exposure to the apps that you are talking about.

Brian

Re: Linux Saves Money and the Numbers Prove It

Anonymous's picture

I'm no Windows lover, but $75,000 for 250 Windows 2000 or XP Professional licenses seems high, at $300 per license. I got my copy for $140 with hard drive. It would be cheaper to buy a hard drive and a $140 OEM copy than to pay $300.

damn WINDOWS lover!!

Anonymous's picture

I say we rig the results even further than they are!

Lets install Visio, MapPoint, MS Project, and a whole bunch more MS products on those workstations.

Those industry leading apps will really rack up the costs on the MS solution. Of course, the Linux solution starts to look a little shoddy when we include all those "just about as good" alternatives. Best leave it as is.

Shawn.

Re: OEM Licence Costs

ConZymaris's picture

We looked for all published licence costs on Microsoft's Web Site. We printed whatever was available. If they only alluded to some cost savings, without making any concrete figures known, we were not in a position to use the figures.

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