Linux firms rubbish Microsoft's customer win

Linux firms rubbish Microsoft's customer win

Summary: Microsoft is delighted that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is swapping Linux for Windows - but the open source community is highly unimpressed


Microsoft’s latest customer win has failed to impress members of the open source community, who insist that it doesn't prove that Windows is superior to Linux.

On Monday Microsoft announced that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) had replaced its Linux Web server with a Windows alternative to save costs and improve its Web offering. "RICS's decision to migrate to Windows will see reduced costs, improved content management and integrated back-office systems with its Web portal," claimed Microsoft.

But open source companies such as Linux vendor Novell, open source application server vendor JBoss and open source consultancy Netproject claimed that RICS did not evaluate Linux properly before making its move. As a result, the move cannot shed any light on the relative merits of Linux and Windows, the three companies said.

In an interview with ZDNet UK, Richard Carlson, the head of business systems at RICS, admitted that the company did not do a comparative study of Linux and Windows.

"We didn't do, say, a three month evaluation of Linux," said Carlson. "We decided that we should evaluate the Microsoft offerings first. Once we realised what a powerful set of tools they were, it became self-evident this was the right way to go down."

RICS uses predominantly Microsoft-based technologies, so when it decided to bring its outsourced Linux Web server back in house it decided to switch to Microsoft technologies to consolidate its architecture and take advantage of its in-house skills. Carlson expects to see lower costs following the move.

"It fitted in with our corporate strategy — everything else on the landscape was Microsoft," said Carlson. "We have a team of 20 people who are all very well qualified in Microsoft technology. None of them have much knowledge of Linux side of things — if I wanted to invest in Linux I would be investing in technology and skills."

ZDNet UK asked Carlson what the company would have done if it had one Windows server in a predominantly Linux environment. "I wouldn't like to say," said Carlson. "It would be a totally different scenario."

RICS is running Microsoft Commerce Server 2002, Content Management Server 2002 and BizTalk Server 2004. Carlson claimed these Web applications are better than their open source alternatives. "Windows gives us everything Linux could not offer: advanced content management and an integrated e-commerce infrastructure that can be managed in-house," said Carlson in a statement.

But Eddie Bleasdale, the director of Netproject, said that by not evaluating it RICS has "not given Linux a fair trial".

Brian Green, Novell's European director of Linux solutions, said that if RICS did not evaluate Linux, it cannot know whether Microsoft is cheaper. "As the customer has acknowledged that he didn't do a study on Linux, how can he say he's saved money?" said Green.

Green said RICS main motivation appears to be to bring the Web server back in house, rather than to move away Linux.

"The customer didn't even own the Linux infrastructure — all their infrastructure internally is running on Windows. They seem to have migrated from a hosted service to an internal service and are claiming it is a migration to Linux," said Green.

Sacha Labourey, JBoss' European general manager, said it is unfair to compare Linux with Commerce Server and Biztalk as they are different beasts.

"It's like comparing apples and oranges," said Labourey. "They say they've migrated from Linux to Biztalk. We're speaking about two very different things — Linux, which is an operating system and Biztalk, which is Web integration software."

Netproject's Bleasdale said he was surprised that RICS was moving to proprietary Web technologies, as the Web is one of the areas where open source has more market share than Microsoft. Almost 70 percent of Web sites are run on the open source Web server Apache, while only 20 percent are run on Microsoft servers, according to this month's Web server survey from Internet services company Netcraft.

Nick McGrath, head of platform strategy at Microsoft, claimed that RICS was facing a common problem of having an individual installation of Linux in a Windows environment. "We are finding increasingly that where Linux has made its way into companies it has been put into place as point solution," said McGrath.

Green vehemently disagreed with Microsoft's claim that Linux is being run for point solutions. "Nick McGrath's claim that Linux is a point solution amazes me," said Green. Oracle grew its Linux market by 360 percent [in 2003, according to a Gartner database market report]. Since when has Oracle been a point solution? I'm staggered."

Although Green disagreed with some of the points made by Microsoft, he said any publicity Microsoft generates by broadcasting RICS' move is good for Linux.

"From Novell's standpoint it's interesting that they [Microsoft] are in such a defensive position," said Green. "Any vendor that promotes Linux is good for Novell."

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • Mr. Carlson maybe foresees better than he thinks:

    "We decided that we should evaluate the Microsoft offerings first. Once we realised what a powerful set of tools they were, it became self-evident this was the right way to go down."

    I have no doubt they will go down. The servers, that is.
  • At one point he said, "We evaluated Windows first, then just went with that." But in the press release, he said, "Windows gave us what Linux couldn't offer..."

    How would he know? He already admitted that Linux got no evaluation.

    Management just likes "ooooh, pretty colors!", which Microsoft delivers in spades. Who cares if it actually works as advertised?
  • "Once we realised what a powerful set of tools they were, it became self-evident this was the right way to go down."

    Poor guy, he admits it right there that "its the right way to go down" ... freudian slip, anyone?
  • Hahaha !
    I'm curious how mutch MS had to cut their prices to get this exemple for their marketting.
    Perhaps MS had to pay to get this customer !
    Rendez-vous for the back-effect when they will chose Linux.
  • Since RICS IT infrastructure is Microsoft-based, and they're staffed with people knowledgeable about Microsoft-based products, with little or no Linux experience, I can't say I blame them for sticking with what they know.

    However, it's unfair for Microsoft to tout this as an example of a customer choosing Windows over Linux after a thorough comparison of both products.
  • So...

    When we hear about stories of switching from Windows to Linux, the Linux huggers are all excited and get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside, yet when we hear it the other way around, they are "unimpressed". Cry me a river...

    It would be interesting to have ZDNet post *every* Linux-to-Windows switch story, but all we usually get is the Windows-to-Linux stories. Now and again we get a story like this.

    Windows is used so much there isn't enough space on ZDNet to post all the Linux-to-Windows stories. But if you only live in the ZDNet pages, you would think the world is crumbling for MS, lol.

    Makes me laugh, really...
  • Huh... so some people imagine there are a lot of Linux to Windows stories and they just don't get any publicity? Hahaha. I'll have to say this is a very poor 'Linux to WinDos' story. Aside from the fact that they didn't make a switch from Linux to WinDos (they made a switch from external hosting, which happened to use Linux, to internal hosting - and simply made use of the expertise they have, which is in M$ products). Sorry folks, no story here, move on.
  • "when it decided to bring its outsourced Linux Web server back in house it decided to switch to Microsoft technologies to consolidate its architecture and take advantage of its in-house skills"

    Sure, if have got the skills in-house it probably IS cheaper to run a Windows server on your own premises compared to running an outsourced (!) Linux server. What's more, they saying they're consolidating servers, meaning cutting down on the number of servers.
    And since they don't have any Linux skills it would require them to train personel or hire.
    So, no i'm also not really impressed. Bah, one can think of many, many situations when choosing for Windows IS cheaper then Linux. Just read all the Microsoft sponsered TCO studies, where a carefully tailored scenario happens to be cheaper with Windows then with Linux.

    In the real world however, the sysadmin buys ONE Linux CD-box and installs (say) 25 machines. And, because (s)he has the expertise, no expensive service contract is ever needed. No extra server software, no expensive Office licences, no firewall software. And no per-user licences.
    Of course, it is nowadays easier to find a Microsoft trained administrator then an experienced Linux guru. But, it is not too difficult to find admins with hands-on experience in Windows and Linux.
    So, slowly mark your Microsoft servers for consolidation towards Linux. And don't be too focussed on TCO, but keep the better security, managebility and scalability in mind. It"s my experience that less Microsoft machines and more Linux in house WILL lower much of your IT costs.
  • I run my web application on the Microsoft .NET platform. As a developer, it is way easier to maintain and code for .NET than it is for Linux. I shopped around until I found a host that ran on the .NET platform.

    Linux = communism
    Microsoft = capitalism

    Linux is so inferior to Windows in so many ways. For example, in Windows, I can rip my CD to MP3 in about four minutes. On Linux, it took around two hours.

    Long live Microsoft...
  • I rip CDs to mp3 in 5 minutes, and mp3 ripper is a LOT faster to install with linux, just one command (using debian) : "apt-get install grip lame" and thats it.
    And do NOT compare the quality of Unix-style OS with windows, please, it just shows our lack of computing knowledge. And btw, thanks, i didnt know that IBM (who invented PC's) the first suporter of linux, is communist. So is Oracle, who found in Linux the most cost-effective solution (perhaps your're going to say that MS SQL server is better...). Oh... and what about comparing bash/ksh with VBS+cmd.exe... Nah, this would be too cruel... Wath about IIS versus Apache? firefox versus Iexplore ? iptable versus the windows firewall ? Samba versus W2k3 (samba performed 2.5 faster) ?
  • "On Monday Microsoft announced that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) had replaced its Linux Web server with a Windows alternative to save costs and improve its Web offering."

    Later in the article it is stated that the RICS had decided to bring the Web Server in-house instead of contracting the service.

    So, their web server was once in the hands of professionals and they chose Linux. When they brought the service in-house, the amateurs selected Windows because that is all they knew and were locked in by M$.

    Extrapolating from this, when you know what you are doing, and have a choice, if you are smart you choose Linux.

    'Nuff Said.

    Thanks you for your time.
  • "Linux = communism
    Microsoft = capitalism"

    No; Microsoft = monopolism. As virtually the only game in town, Microsoft is like a communist dictator. You've got your terms the wrong way round.

    I wish I had an ounce of what some of these posters are on.
  • ..professionals chose Linux... amateurs selected Windows

    enough said...
  • I'm a professional (over twenty years experience in a vast array of computer skills) and I choose Microsoft products. Yes, SQL Server is better than Oracle. I was in a shop where we used both products and the Oracle side of things gave us the most headaches and the highest total cost of ownership.

    Saying that Microsoft is a dictatorship is absurd. As a user, we live in a time where we can choose from Linux, Apple, Microsoft or OS/2 operating systems. If you do not like Microsoft products, you are not forced to use them. Therefore, they are not a monopoly. Please get a clue.

    For the easiest, lowest cost of doing web applications, Microsoft wins hands down.
  • Zaphod -- Not that it needs saying, but you're clearly living on a different planet to the rest of us.
  • From reading the other posts, clearly the only ones that can spell are using Windows. How old are some of you? I don't think you have a clue about any of the real world situations. Bad code is bad code no matter what platform it runs on. It just happens that there are a lot more developers on the Windows platform, hence there are more amateurs attempting to code and thus, a lot of bad programs and slow web results. However, my applications run very fast and it is so easy to maintain servers in the Windows world. Please open your minds and accept the fact that Darth Vader is your father.

  • Zaphod, exceptions generally only confirm the rule.

    Most striking however seems to be the inclusion of emotional based conclusion making to warrant ones own view that's usually mostly observed amongst those that favour Microsoft solutions in my opinion. In this particular case the inclusion of the ability to spell correctly to make an assumption on how right or wrong someone is.

    In my working experience however it's exactly that emotional based decision making process that leads to worser results overall in the end. Often disregarded by those that were part of the initial emotional based decison making process but afterwards noticed by the facts of reality by the rest of the company nevertheless.
  • In my experience, the emotional ones are usually the Linux fellows. I was in one meeting where this one guy went off on a tirade against Microsoft products - he was almost foaming at the mouth. I find that very unprofessional.

    I like to look at things logically. In doing so, I find that the .NET solution is vastly superior to anything else available in today's world. I can generally code an entire application in less than two weeks after knowing all the requirements. The application is then easy to maintain and very cost-effective as the client didn't have to spend an inordinate amount of money on development time.

  • Really? In my experience I encounter often people who sell words for a nickle and a dime and once the contract is signed it turns out to be a world of strings attached.

    The easy to install with little to nothing technical requirements and no negative impact whatsoever new custom-made software solution turns out to need all sorts of additional patches, extra hardware, extra licences, redesigns, tuning, tweaking, concessions, additional work and what not.

    Somehow the overbuild development environment back at the workshop doesn't quite resembles the production environment in use at the customer site.
    Also, it's rather rule then exception for the average developer to totally overlook aspects like AAA, redundancy requirements, load balancing, anti-virus, firewalls, diagnostics, automated backups, recovery, patch management, change management, resource management, pre-warning systems, management systems, base lining and a whole range of other aspects that are common in IT land but just not within his/her job description.

    No, .NET doesn't "take care of that". Nor does anything else build around, on top, sideways, or whatever on it. Actually worse because the basis of .NET doesn't allow for much flexibility. It's either their way or the high way so to speak. Broken third-party application? Get an update! Yeah right, pay for an upgrade and do a complete change project you mean. Rewrite half your system documentation and procedures and so on. But at least it'll be easier for the developer to maintain the code. Wow, wouldn't it be cheaper and quicker to simply swap out the developer? Oh, and guys? Within two years from now you can do this all over again because Microsoft is rewriting all sorts of core parts in various products of theirs and to make the most use out of that your third-parties will need to rewrite the lot again leading to yet another cascade effect. Ka-ching!

    Also, the usual response when the new program doesn't work as expected is requests to turn off anti-virus or firewalls, devote a dedicated server to it, grand it overexcessive rights, allow the developer to gain complete access to the troubled system in question for "monitoring" purposes, upgrade the WAN links, install additional Microsoft components all over the place, re-activate Microsoft components that were de-activated for good reasons and so forth. In short, let it spin out of control but just meet the deadline.

    Point the above out and there are developers that turn emotional and claim that unreasonable demands are forced upon them. Yeah, right. Worked fine until they showed up and all we're pointing out is to not turn your production environment into someone elses test and learning facility. If you can't deliver what's being asked then simply say so and we can move on. Just don't expect me to turn a good working production environment into something some developer thinks he understands and at least feels comfortable with.

    You see? Different experiences, different opinions.
  • Wow - sounds like you found some really bad devlepers - my deepest sympathies.

    I've never had to do any of the above things you are talking about. In general, I stay away from third party controls as I lose too much control and I can write anything and keep libraries that I can draw upon. Load Balancing is supported in .NET - you just have to know how to use it.

    It obviously goes without saying that developers need to get proper training instead of just jumping into something that could most probably lead to them being in over their heads.

    Also, about your thoughts about the world changing around you and having to make changes to the project - that goes without saying. We live in an ever changing world and if a client wants to remain competitive, he has to use the latest technologies. That is the case for anyone whether or not they use Microsoft products or Linux products.

    Bad programmers abound - just because there seems to be more in the Microsoft camp is just a testament to how easy their tools are to use.

    Don't you guys get it? A small group of people (Linus Torvalds and a few henchmen) made it rich off the backs of the common developer. How can you stand this? It isn't right in my eyes. Everyone should profit from a shared system and not just a few. Someday I am going to run my own company and I will richly reward all those that help me get to the top.

    Zaphod Beeblebrox