switch to linux for the sake of switching
I think there's been a disconnect somewhere.
I did not say (nor have I ever said) anything about "switching just for the sake of switching." Nor did I get the sense that that is what urlwolf's
original post was talking about.
And I also (like you) didn't see anything in Mr. U's comments that mentioned "wasting their time switching" so I don't really know how to respond to your point about that. Especially since I didn't say it either!
What I did
disagree with were certain sweeping statements which I quoted and responded to. I also took care to qualify my comments by saying they were based on my experiences
. At no time did I say that Mr. U was wrong. What I was hoping to do was to initiate a little dialog so that Mr. U and I could possibly help each other out - either by my helping him clear up some of his misunderstandings - or him helping me clear up some of my own.
All I was trying to say was that companies can - and do - use NIX. Furthermore, it is possible to run a business exclusively on the NIX platform. I'm not arguing they automatically should. But there's enough parity between the two platforms that GNU/NIX is now a viable alternative rather than a 'science fair project' for the IT department.
When it comes to discussions about support and training costs, I've found most quoted numbers (pro & con) are highly exaggerated. I've found support costs to be about the same for all the platforms. Linux/GNU support isn't (or shouldn't be) any more expensive than Windows or OSX. By the same token, you can't rationally expect it to be free.
Regardless of which OS you're running, a support call or visit from a qualified Tech will set your company back about the same money where I live. Small surprise since, in many cases, it's the same people who are providing support for both platforms. And the reason for that isn't because all of us Windows support people are advocates of FOSS solutions. The primary reason my company supports both is because FOSS is a viable alternative. And there is sufficient interest and demand for FOSS solutions in our market that we'd be foolish to ignore it. That's just simple 'business sense.'
Training costs are a different matter. But in many respects, they're largely a paper tiger. From what I have seen, most companies spend little or nothing
on formal end-user training. Usually there's an 'orientation meeting' to let the employees know what to expect, and little else. Many only invest in training a small core group, which in turn is expected to teach the rest of the employees what they need to know and answer questions as needed. It's almost like the old guild system of on-the-job training. And truth be told, most applications don't require all that much training provided the employee has some computer experience. (And who doesn't nowadays?)
Switchover costs may or may not be an issue. It primarily depends on the amount and type of data conversion required. Office document format files are usually not an issue. Databases might be problematic, although there are plenty of good tools available to handle conversions reliably and efficiently. Proprietary data formats (usually accounting and other financial apps) probably pose the biggest challenge. But you would run into the same issues converting from one package to another even under the same operating system. So that cost isn't really specific to switching your OS.
As far as getting support, virtually all of the "business class" applications have professional support options available. Ditto for the distros. If a company wants to use something that only has "forum support" available for it, they'd best either bring the necessary expertise in-house; or contract with the original authors to provide it. I personally have no sympathy for companies that expect (or demand) free technical support on any zero-cost product they are using for business. And that holds true regardless of whether the product was released under GPL or not.
Re: sole vs integrated FOSS deployments. I work with both types of clients. Several use GNU/NIX exclusively, although I'd have to qualify that since some of them are forced to have a Mac or PC in their office just in case one of their clients
needs them to work on something that requires a platform specific app. Internally, they're completely FOSS, so I guess that might put them someplace between sole and integrated? I dunno. I'll let you make the call on that one.
For integrated, I don't think I have a single client who isn't using some FOSS product. And that would run the gamut from merely using DD-WRT
on a wireless router or running an Untangle Gateway
; all the way up to one customer who's using:
- NIX/Samba combo (Win PDC + file/print services)
- PostgreSQL (custom database server)
- Apache (two guesses )
- Asterix (PBX)
- pfSense (firewall router)
Interestingly enough, this same client has not deployed Linux to the desktop. They're running (and completely happy) with WinXP.
Whether or not they jump ship is "entirely up to Microsoft." They're currently waiting to see what the final hit (in dollars and hardware performance) will be if they upgrade to Win7. The cost/performance ratio is going to need to be pretty compelling to keep them. Especially since Win7's new interface is sufficiently different from XP that they expect a drop in productivity until their employees receive training. Just what training they ultimately get (Win7
) remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.