Preface: I’m not pro Linux, Microsoft, Apple, or anything. I believe in the right tools for the job.
I was talking to a friend today and she asked me, “John (name changed to protect them from embarrassment) said to me that Microsoft doesn’t work with Linux!” Well, that took me to a place I don’t like to visit in my heart; the pit. Why? Because.. It’s not true. So many advocates of (and for) Microsoft call Linux the devil. Why? I honestly don’t know so I’m going to put on my fanboy hat for a few minutes while I write this article.
Linux is not the devil. It’s just a different operating system. It does many of the same things as Microsoft Windows does and the applications for every bit as good at doing their jobs than Microsoft applications are. Let’s introduce another hot topic; Apple. The fans of Cupertino feel strongly about Microsoft and hate Linux less. Why? It’s different.
Let me dispel some myths for all of you out there that feel that one Operating System is better than another. They’re all good at doing different things well.
Microsoft is good at managing small enterprises. In fact, for a small business, I wouldn’t recommend anything else. Why? Because the small business rarely has the deep pockets they need to hire a 90K per year Linux administrator to handle IT infrastructure for 1-50 people. In many small businesses, one of the employees or owner him/herself is the administrator. They do ALL the computer “stuff”.
As the business grows, the owner has to do other things (like run the business) and technology infrastructure increases. What is technology infrastructure? Anything that plugs into the network or sends or receives information. A fax machine and a phone system are part of technology infrastructure. So as your infrastructure grows, you add servers, phones, computers, etc. It rapidly becomes a full-time job for a person or team.
As for the downside of running Microsoft on your infrastructure as you exceed 100 employees and become a medium sized business? License fees. You pay for Microsoft on every server, laptop, and desktop. You add the license fees for Microsoft Office, SQL Server, Exchange, and whatever specialized software your company runs. Do you have a website? More license fees. At some point, you’re going to be spending 40-50% of your technology budget just buying licenses. (for many medium sized businesses, this is reality).
I’m not saying replace Microsoft in your business, it’s impossible to do today and it would put your business at a serious disadvantage, but I am saying reduce your licensing costs through Linux.
In the world of today (and tomorrow), use as many cloud-based apps as you can. Guess what, they’re powered by Linux most likely. Do you use Google, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or online banking? You’re using Linux. Do you use Salesforce.com? Linux. Do you use an Android Phone? Linux.
So what would it be like in a world without Linux? Probably very different. All of the companies I mentioned above wouldn’t exist in their current form. They would most likely all charge a fee for you to use their products. Can you imagine paying to use Google? I know I couldn’t. What about paying for Facebook? or Twitter?
What about Linkedin? Could you imagine paying to put your free profile on Linkedin? I know I couldn’t. I pay for Linkedin as a premium member, because I support what the company does.
Could you imagine paying to log in to your bank online just to check an account balance? I know that’s ridiculous, but if Linux didn’t exist, that would most likely be the business model.
My point is many of the companies that we use every day are able to offer their products and services to us free, because Linux and a lot of the software available for Linux is free. The great thing is much of this software is enterprise ready. It’s been vetted, tested, and developed by the largest beta test group on the planet; the users.
Is all Linux software bug free? No. Is all Microsoft software bug free? No. What about Apple software? No. It’s about who makes the software and how much attention and support they give to their product. That’s how business works. Offer a service or sell something, but if you don’t refine it or support your customers, you go out of business. Linux projects are the same way. The only difference is you don’t pay for Linux software (most of the time), you pay for the support.
The Microsoft model is a little different. Pay for the software AND pay for support. Apple software is pretty much the same.
I’m not stating one Operating System is better than another, nor am I saying one platform is better than another. I’m simply stating every technology has its place. For Linux, it’s in the enterprise today and possibly on the desktop tomorrow. Depending on the country you live in, Linux may be more widely deployed than Microsoft. Why? Even $5.00 might not be affordable for the average user.
Linux is very good at high performance compute. It’s very good at economies of scale. It’s also very good at fostering a strong community that gives back for the benefit of all users. What is Linux not good at today? Ease of use for the average person. That is rapidly changing and over the next 10 years, opportunities for Linux administrators (and talent) are going to grow exponentially. Linux will be widely deployed on some sizeable portion of desktops in existence.
Linux adoption in the enterprise has reached ~73% this past year and is continuing to grow. Does it replace 100% of the Microsoft enterprise? No. Will it ever? No. That’s what free market economies are about; choices.
Why are large corporations (enterprises) moving towards Linux solutions? Price and performance. In many cases, adopting Linux in a small portion of your enterprise can potentially save you 20-30% of your annual operating expense and possibly up to 80% of your capital expenditure. This is why businesses are adopting Linux.
What about compatibility? Many people immediately state Linux isn’t compatible with Microsoft. Well, if you want to believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.
I’ll use one example, because I can discuss this topic for days and still not be done. Let’s use web servers as an example. It’s not the technology, but the protocol. A protocol is simply a language. The standards that are adopted by the user community are all that matter.
If you want to use Facebook, Google, or Twitter, you just need a web browser. A web browser speaks the protocol used by the web server. That language is HTTP; the language that allows your browser to show you your friends’ status updates and tweets. The different operating systems (Microsoft, Linux, Apple) all have browsers that speak that language. It doesn’t matter if the web server is Microsoft, Windows, Apple, or KraftFoods based. As long as it speaks the language, you can interface with it. Does that make sense people? It’s not a religion; it’s a standard. Adhere to the standard and speak the language and you can communicate.
That’s why people who learn French in two different schools in two different countries can communicate. They adhere to the same standard of language mechanics and use the same word-base.
Bottom line: It’s not about which technology is better or whether they’re compatible. It’s about which standards you adhere to and languages you can speak.
I think I’ve made my point.