Microsoft: Economy putting a damper on migrations to and from open source

Due to the downturn in the economy, many business users are putting the kibosh on migrations to or from open source. That's one of Microsoft's findings from its own customer research upon which its execs plan to expound during this week's Open Source Business Conference (OSBC).

Due to the downturn in the economy, many business users are putting the kibosh on migrations to or from open source.

That's one of Microsoft's findings from its own customer research upon which its execs plan to expound  during this week's Open Source Business Conference (OSBC).

Robert Youngjohns, Microsoft's President of North America Sales & Marketing, is set to keynote the conference on Wednesday in San Francisco. His topic: "Partnering for Success."

Prior to Youngjohns' keynote, I had a chance to chat by phone with Sam Ramji, Microsoft's Director of Platform Strategy and primary point person for open-source outreach at the company. Ramji shared some of the findings Microsoft unearthed when talking to customers in preparation for Microsoft's annual internal worldwide business review.

IT departments are not cutting their spending to zero, Ramji claimed. Instead, they are focusing on strategic projects and cutting completely those they deem to be non-critical. That's why Microsoft is advising open-source partners with whom the company is collaborating not to focus their customer pitches on costs, but instead to lead their sales pitches with "value," he said.

(Ramji's advice contradicts head-on the way that Microsoft partner Novell is pitching its customers. Novell recently hired IDC to do a study which found users were more interested in open-source and Linux software because of tough economic times.)

"We're also seeing a lot of risk adversity," Ramji told me, resulting in fewer migrations between Windows and Linux and/or Microsoft products and open-source ones. The thinking, Ramji claimed, has become "Get the best value out of the hardware and software you already have."

Ramji said Microsoft also is hearing customers saying they want new technologies to prove themselves on the return-on-investment front in a much shorter window: typically just 6 to 12 weeks.

Which take reflects your reality -- Microsoft's or Novell/IDC's? Are tough economic times leading your IT shop to look more closely at LInux? Or is the downturn keeping you from even thinking about any near-term replacements/migrations?

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