|Feature:Linux and Corporations|
from the stuff-to-read dept.
Dean Olson has written up his opinions on Linux and Corporations. It's an interesting read in which he discusses what needs to happen for linux to be practically accepted in many corporate worlds. Check it out.
The following was written by Slashdot reader Dean Olson
Linux and the Corporationsby Dean Olson
I work in a Microsoft camp. The Information Systems departme nt of my city, having been forced to leave their comfortable mainframes, have had to acclimate themselves to a client-server environment, namely PCs. They did not go peacefully, but they went nevertheless. They had no choice. Now when they think of PCs, they immediately think Microsoft Windows. So our IS department has embraced Microsoft wholeheartedly down to their server, their clients, and their applications. With over 1200 users at any given time working on anything from Geographic Information Systems to crime analysis to personnel payroll, our city needed solutions and they needed them without having to commit time to their development. After all, the year 2000 was looming around the corner and with their inexperience in client-server computing, the IS department needed to standardize in the most expedient manner possible. Why not hedge their bets with the most compatible platform available?
In the recent article presented on Slashdot, it was mentione d that some large corporations shy away from Linux simply because it does not come from a single commercial vendor, a sole source, if you will; specifically, because there is no one that they can hold accountable if things go wrong. The reaction to this revelation for those who have never worked in such a large environment, was characterized by disbelief that such an attitude could be justified. Most readers, being inexperienced in big business did not understand the context in which such a statement was made. Most people who read the article assumed that such corporations intend to sue Microsoft if anything went wrong with their OS. This is naive and it shows the inexperience of some would-be Linux advocates.
Corporations do not sue Microsoft. Corporations sue the companies that specify Microsoft as their platform of choice. Since Linux is a moving target in terms of its development and its commercial sources, pinning down a company to take responsibility for Linux has been difficult in the extreme. When these corporations go after someone legally, they do not do it for chump change, for a mere $89 upgrade expense at the local CompUSA; corporations, with millions to lose in man-hours lost, go after hundreds of thousands, if not millions in liquidated damages for every day that they cannot perform to their expectations. Performance bonds are pulled, wherein the vendors of enterprise applications ensure that they can deliver a working software solution or have someone else do it at their expense. The stakes are high.
Until recently, most Linux users were people who were colleg e students, programmers, the technically adept. Most of them were also using Linux at home or on their own LANs. Now that companies such as Corel, Netscape, and in a surprise announcement, Oracle are tapping the Linux market, things are looking up for Linux in the enterprise computing market. The enterprise market is the holy grail of business computing. But the downside to this newfound popularity is that while some businesses are seriously eyeing Linux for the first time since they first heard about the hobbyist OS from Finland, some Linux users are still thinking of Linux in comparison to Windows 95. The desktop is not the prize that must be fought for if Linux is to be taken seriously by corporations. Rather it is the enterprise market that is the true goal. Think NT, think Solaris. Do corporations care about what you are running at home? Not likely. They want an OS that can guara ntee (for what that is worth) that their 1200 users are not going to choke when they are tallying their two hundred seventy thousand customers accounts for the current month. In the place where I work, this has been done. We have had to stop payment to vendors because they weren't delivering what they promised- a functional system that is in compliance with the operating system standards. Therein lies the rub. Linux has no current standard. Not yet, but hopefully soon. The sooner the better. For our city, this has amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-payment to certain vendors that have failed us. In some cases, litigation has resulted. Do you now see why corporations insist on being able to sue those that cannot deliver what they promised? It is their safety net. If the price for failing was not high enough, then vendors would not have the incentive that they have to make sure they please their customers.
Linux is on the verge of becoming a serious enterprise OS. Doing so will ensure the dominance of Linux in the business world, but in order to do that, we the users need to come to an understanding about what our role is in the scheme of things. Overzealous posturing and disdain of corporate America is not the way to promote the popularity of Linux. It is not corporate America that is attempting to woo Linux; it is Linux that is striving to be taken seriously by corporate America. Technological superiority is not enough to ensure Linux's place in business. Look at the Macintosh. Look at the Amiga. One only has to see how overzealous users hurt those platforms to understand how loving something to the exclusion of all others can damage the public's opinion of those very same platforms. Linux is growing up. Fast. But Linux users need to grow as well. While it may be true that corporate America does not understand us, yet, unfortunately it is also true that most Linux users do not yet understand corporate America either. Let's meet them halfway. They'll be glad we did.
Slashdot has posted several stories covering the news from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Here they are, in sequence:
World Trade Towers and Pentagon Attacked, 9:12 AM 2001-09-11 (all times EDT)
Update: 2001-09-13 12:00 by michael:
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