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IDC: Windows 2000 Offers Better Total Cost Of Ownership Than Linux

Microsoft's Windows 2000 offers a better total cost of ownership (TCO) than Linux for most traditional server workloads over a five-year time span, according to an IDC study financed by Microsoft.

Windows Linux server

Just a day before the Enterprise Linux Forum gets under way in Boston, Microsoft is celebrating the results of a study that maintains that the Windows 2000 Server operating system offers a better cost of ownership for running network infrastructure, print serving, file serving and security applications than Linux.

According to the Microsoft-sponsored survey of 104 companies in North America, the cost advantage of Windows over Linux for the four workloads ranges from 11 percent to 22 percent over a five-year period.

Linux demonstrated a cost advantage over Windows in only one category--Web serving. According to the survey, Linux offers a cost advantage of 6 percent over Windows for running Web applications over that same time frame.

While Microsoft's Licensing 6.0 acquisition costs are significantly higher than those of the free Linux OS, software acquisition represents a small percentage--roughly 5 percent--of the TCO, IDC found.

IDC says factors other than software acquisition cost--particularly staffing and downtime--are the most significant factors when determining TCO over a long-term period. For example, IDC says that IT staffing alone accounts for 62.2 percent of TCO, while downtime represented another 23.1 percent of the costs. Software acquisition, in contrast, accounts for a mere 4.6 percent of the TCO, while hardware represents 4.4 percent.

"The study shows very clearly that up-front costs, including hardware or software, are not the most significant items contributing to the five-year TCO value," said Al Gillen, an IDC analyst. "Think about it. How long does it take to surpass the cost of software when you have a high-paid staff member managing the system? That staff member cost is there regardless of what the original software and hardware cost," he said.

Expenditures for managing, maintaining, troubleshooting and restoring the systems operations of a Linux server were, "in almost every case, higher than for systems running Windows 2000," according to the study, titled "Windows 2000 Versus Linux in Enterprise Computing."

IDC attributed the Windows 2000 win to the maturity of Windows management features and third-party tools in the marketplace. This countered the immaturity of Linux system management tools and low penetration of Linux management platforms in the enterprise.

However, the report also noted that the increasing availability of respected management tools for the Linux platform--including BMC Patrol, CA Unicenter, HP OpenView, IBM Tivoli, NetIQ and Novell Zenworks--will likely improve the installation, deployment and maintenance numbers for Linux servers. "Over time, the gap in support costs between Linux and Windows will contract," the study stated.

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