Linux TCO?

Slashdot has an article dispelling some of the myths about Windows vs. Linux. Just reading the Yankee poll makes me seethe. That aside, now you know my camp.

Do you really want to know the TCO breakdown for a small business? I’m the IT Administrator at a charter school, so I would say that we are a classified as a small business. Let’s take a look.

I have 4 Compaq Proliant servers running Windows 2000, as well as running IIS, ISA, Exchange 2000, and Veritas Backup Exec. They cost the school very little, because they were paid for by a grant. They cost the grant roughly $30,000. That includes the price of the hardware, 300 Windows CALs, 300 Exchange CALs, Windows Servers Licenses, Exchange Server Licenses, and Veritas Licenses. We bought it all in 2002. Now it’s 2005. The hardware is doing great, but Windows 2000 is clearly being pushed to the back at Microsoft. Windows Server System has been out for a while, a new service release for 2003 will be out this year, and Windows Longhorn Server should be available sometime within the next decade (okay, 2007, really).

Needless to say, it is time for an upgrade. This will be a real world upgrade, and does not get confused by things such as “value” and “features.” Those words are very defined in the real world, and only get muddled when found in surveys, studies and polls. Since our hardware is doing great (4 dual 1.4Ghz PIIIs with almost 1 terrabyte combined total in hard disk space), we’re only going to upgrade the software. The obvious options are: Windows Server 2003 with Exchange Server 2003, or Linux. Note that I cannot use Windows Server 2003 Small Business Edition, because it has a user cap at 75, and we need at least 300 seats, including staff machines and lab machines.

Windows Server 2003 Upgrade Path (prices from
Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (includes 10 CALs) – $1,199 x 4 = $4,796
Windows Server 2003, CAL 20-pack – $799 x 13 = $10,387
Exchange Server 2003, Standard Edition – $699
Exchange Server 2003, user CAL – $67 x 300 = $20,100
ISA Server 2004, Standard Edition – $1,499
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer Training with 2003 Server Path – approx. $10,000
A technician to run it all (me) – same in all situations; does not affect TCO.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Upgrade Path (prices from
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 – $3,196
Red Hat Certified Engineer Training for RHEL4 – approx. $4,496

Looks like Windows costs about $39,789 more for our business. Let’s take it a step further.

Ubuntu GNU/Linux (prices from /dev/null)
Ubuntu Hoary 5.04 CD – $0.00, including shipping and handling
Apache Web Server – $0.00
MySQL – $0.00
PHP – $0.00
Samba – $0.00
Postfix Mail Server – $0.00
OpenLDAP – $0.00
Jabber IM Server – $0.00
Horde Web Mail – $0.00
Squid Proxy Cache – $0.00
Mondo Rescue Backups – $0.00

A word to Ballmer and Gates: no more FUD! It doesn’t make any sense!

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Philip Cain

Ninja Master of the Series of Tubes, musician, audio engineer and geek. More about Philip...