"If you're not piloting a Linux desktop program, you're paying too much for your Microsoft client software," Samba co-developer Jeremy Allison told attendees during a presentation at LinuxWorld 2004 in San Francisco, citing Telstra as a key example of how even threatening to utilise Linux could result in major discounts. "The more you pilot Linux, the deeper the discounts get."
Telstra's aggressive piloting of Linux and other products such as StarOffice, spearheaded by CIO Jeff Smith, has resulted in its scoring major concessions from Microsoft in a new deal to roll out 40,000 Windows desktops. Allison's comments underscore how the Australian telco remains a global leader in gaining commercial advantage through trialling open source solutions.
During his presentation, which discussed how to integrate Linux and Unix systems with Microsoft's Active Directory, Allison predicted that Microsoft would eventually begin selling Linux versions of core products such as Exchange and SQL Server. "When they become responsible like IBM, and start wanting to just make money rather than rule the world, they will eventually start selling software on Linux," Allison said. "We've probably got a few years of pain first."
One source of that pain has been the looming threat of patent lawsuits against open source products. Allison argues that such a prospect is likely sooner rather than later. "Linus [Torvalds, Linux's original creator] and I have a bet," he said. "I think that a big open source project will get sued this year for patent violations. He says it's going to be next year."
Angus Kidman attended LinuxWorld as a guest of IBM.