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Linux: Don't Buy the Hype

Over the last few years Linux has become an increasingly viable alternative for the data center. Firms such as IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
and Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL), for example, are filling out their Linux strategies, and more and more independent software vendors are jumping on the open-source bandwagon.

Another big Linux selling point is the fact that the software is system agnostic. Removing the link between operating system and specific hardware gives users freedom of choice and the flexibility to use whichever system provides best performance and value. Then, of course, there are the much hyped cost savings. For many people, Linux equals reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).

But this is not the case in every data center, and businesses shouldn't buy into the assumption that it's cheaper. It is extremely difficult to say whether Linux, Unix, or Windows is cheapest to operate. Why? TCO is complex, with many variables to consider, such as staff training and legacy systems. Add to this mix the fact that each organization is different, and it becomes extremely difficult to make direct comparisons.

Quite simply, Linux is no silver bullet and suffers the same deployment problems as any other platform. The question of whether you deploy it in your data center depends very much on your individual circumstances. If you already have thousands of Microsoft applications, for example, then making the move may not be the wisest thing.

And if you do decide to make the move, then the migration can only be done with a great deal of planning. This is not something that you should jump into with both feet it's a question of dipping your toe in and testing the water. Then, and only then, should you consider spreading Linux out across your enterprise.

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