Linux total cost of ownership cheaper than Windows

Says not-so neutral IBM, with its sponsored report estimating 40 per cent savings by deploying Linux servers

Steve Malone
2 Sep 2005

A report sponsored by IBM claims that the total cost of Ownership (TCO) of Linux is considerably less than Windows. This is curiously at odds with similar studies, sponsored by Microsoft, which draw the opposite conclusion.

The report from the Robert Frances Group looked at the TCO for large application servers, comparing Linux, Windows and Solaris solutions. The research was based on interviews with IT executives from more than 20 medium and large companies with more than 250 employees

The report notes that 'commercial product vendors', such as Microsoft and Sun, have cut their prices in order to compete with the open source licence of Linux. It also notes that Linux is not entirely a free lunch and that if companies want to do serious business on the platform they need to treat it as they would a commercial product and buy the same support and management tools available from IBM, Novell, RedHat and others, that they would on any other platform. As a result, the cost of deploying Linux is actually climbing although the report concludes there is still a considerable cost benefit.

The report says that, over a three year period, Linux is 40 percent less expensive than a comparable x86-based Windows solution and 54 percent less than a comparable SPARC-based Solaris solution.

Over the three-year period, the RFG says that Linux, Windows and Solaris cost $40,149, $67,559 and $86,478 respectively. Interestingly, these proportions hardly change of each of the three years of the study. Although one might expect the costs of the commercial products to be front loaded as licence costs are taken into account, there are still considerable set up costs associated with deploying Linux.

The hardware costs demonstrated in the study prove equally eye opening. The cost of the hardware to drive the applications to a similar level with Linux is half that of either Windows or Solaris.

The report's conclusions will be disputed by Microsoft which has produced its ownbattery of research proving the opposite.

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