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Three Windows to Linux Migrations (and Vice Versa) 132

Posted by Hemos
from the back-and-forth-back-and-forth dept.
daria42 writes "In this extended article, ZDNet Australia goes under the hood of three enterprises that moved their back end servers from Windows to Linux and open source software. Two of the companies ended up eventually going back to Microsoft, with the third one still going strong with Linux."
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Three Windows to Linux Migrations (and Vice Versa)

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  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:19AM (#15189625) Homepage
    This sounds like a pretty expensive procedure of going to Linux, and then eventually switching back when you find out that it isn't working for you. I think that with the right people, with the right knowledge, that it would be a good change for those involved. Buy you don't have to move everything all at once. Maybe just stop using windows for new things, and then eventually move the old stuff, or not. There's no reason to take down a working server, and try to replace it with something unfamiliar. replace little things, one at a time, and keep what's working for you. If you try Linux mail servers, and you just had a better time with Exchange, then leave exchange working. But if your database servers are performing better with Postgres, then leave that in place. There's no reason why you can't have a mixed environment.
    • I don't think that three is a sufficiently large sample to reach many conclusions in general.
    • by babbling (952366) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:51AM (#15189854)
      I agree. Most free software can also be run just fine on Windows, so it would be a good idea for any organisation switching to slowly replace each server with free software before migrating to Linux. Once everything is running free software on top of Windows, switching to Linux should be fairly painless.
    • The problems with Linux for the two companies that switched to Windows wasn't switching headaches - the one company had used Red Hat for three years, and the other one since '99. Their problems were that they wanted features they weren't finding in Linux, but did find in Windows. Your advice for switching is solid, but it's not relevant to the problems brought up in the article.
      • In part, I disagree. In my opinion, the first two companies were examples of what can happen when you try to build *any* environment when your techs don't have enough knowledge to do it right. Windows can have terrible identity management too, if someone doesn't get it set up correctly. Exchange servers can be integrity and uptime nightmares in the wrong hands. Right now, though, you are definitely going to find business applications that aren't available on Linux, and if your techs can't find a way to
      • by WebCowboy (196209) on Monday April 24, 2006 @05:22PM (#15192944)
        Their problems were that they wanted features they weren't finding in Linux, but did find in Windows.

        WRONG. The problem was that they weren't aware that Linux-based systems acutally COULD do what they wanted and a Microsoft marketroid came along and showed them how it could be dome with Windows. Both examples of the reversion to Microsoft showed all the hallmarks of "you don't knw what you don't know"--not only did their IT people not know how to make Linux work for them--they weren't even fully aware of the capabilities of open source systems.

        The articles mention one comany migrated to Linux 3 years ago, the other seven years ago. Did they really keep up with the fast-moving world of open source? In the anecdote about the company that stuck with Linux there was a fairly siginificant mention of upgrading both hardware and software, but in the other cases little to nothing was said about upgrading. It is entirely possible that the latter company was still runnning on their original Mandrake 6.x (or whatever it was in 1999) platform. Were they expecting their Linux systems to be magically immortal? If they implemented a Microsoft system in 1999, do you really think they'd be happy with NT4 and the big pile of manure that passed for Exchange Server at the time? I seriously think not.

        I think the final solution of migrating (back) to another platform was too drastic, and that these companies dropped the ball when it came to examining the open source alternative. Three passwords to log into a VPN? Email boxes stored on clients? Lack of collaberation tools? COME ON! You can set up a Linux server to allow a Windows client to log in without any extra passwords. It isn't hard to set up a secure IMAP server using Postfix to manage mail server-side either, and there are "Exchange replacements" that may fit the bill if you need to do mare than just manage email centrally. There are a bazillion "portal frameworks" out there, and Subversion can be used as a collaberation tool for more than just computer code. I know this can all be done because I've done all of that myself. These people are lazy and uncreative and didn't even try to find a more elegant approach to solving their problems. Instead they let a Microsoft salesman sell them a sledgehammer to drive in their 10-penny nails.

        These stories also underscore a problem with the Linux community as well, however. Microsoft made themselves readily available. They have an education programme that turns out MCSEs faster than rats can breed. The Windows brand is everywhere and they make it very clear with every release "what's new". Where were the Red Hat and Novell people when these Linux shops were struggling? Why isn't red-hat more agessively marketing and expanding RCHE certification? What about LPI? And as far as marketing goes, IBM has done a bit but Linux is far from front and centre, and the marketing presence of Red Hat and Novell is next to nothing in comparison to Microsoft's mega-campaigns that contain heavy dollops of information (or mis-information in some cases). Yes, MS is the big man on campus and has the resources to pull all this off the best, but it's going to take a huge marketing and support effort by the Linux community to make sure we not only convert more people to Linux but to retain them as well.
        • Why isn't red-hat more agessively marketing and expanding RCHE certification?

          They are aggressively marketing it. It's full page ads in the industry magazines, it's right on the Red Hat website, it's the first link for "Linux Certification" if you do a Google search on the topic.

          It's a simple chicken and egg dilemma. Useful certification programs are demanding and expensive. Microsoft software is prevalent, so your average IT fellow is already comfortable with the tools and has a comparatively easy
      • Their problems were that they wanted features they weren't finding in Linux, but did find in Windows.

        But were they really? The rationale seemed fuzzy and nebulous to me, exactly the type of stuff you would come up with if there was no good reason other than "I wanted to".

        '"They're gearing everything towards this collaboration platform, and the way these applications are moving towards total integration is extremely attractive to me," says Parsons. "Knowledge needs to be transferred seamlessly and transpare

  • What works best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NosPAm.optonline.net> on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:32AM (#15189716) Journal

    So we have a breakdown of 3 companies, 2 switching from Linux to Windows, 1 from Windows to Linux. Is there any great wisdom to be gleaned from this? The only bit I can come up with is that you use what works best for you with the infrastructure you need to support. It's easy to say Linux will work well for everything but that's just not realistic. It's also safe to say that Microsoft sucks universally, yet there are plenty of sites running SQL Server and IIS that seem to be doing ok.

    If you're smart, you analyze your needs and then add 50% for growth and ask yourself if the infrastructure and technology you plan to use can handle it. It's simpler than getting caught up in the Microsoft vs. Liunx battle for supremacy.

    • Re:What works best (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:01PM (#15190868) Homepage Journal
      Is there any great wisdom to be gleaned from this? The only bit I can come up with is that you use what works best for you with the infrastructure you need to support.

      I think it's interesting to contrast the foci of the switchers.

      The Linux to Windows switchers were looking for an OS that was an all-around general purpose operating system to support a wide array of day to day internal IT uses. The problem they have is scaling up their Linux support to keep all the endless bits of software they organization needs working together. The "network effect" applies here: there's lots of companies with their needs and (low level of) resources, and those companies by in large use Windows. Therefore vendors in the Windows space address their needs to do a wide variety of things good enough with limited staff expertise.

      The Windows to Linux switcher was looking for the best platform to host a single application they were designing. The consumers of the platform were, in effect, the development team, which was small and a higly focused center of expertise. They are looking for maximum performance and stability to support a universe of software they define. Joe Blow in accounting having to put three passwords in to use the VPN is quite low on their priorities, compared to, for example, hitting an unanticipated wall in the performance curve.

      In short, the Linux->Windows switchers viewed software as a support function -- back office stuff. The Windows->Linux switcher viewed software as a line function -- outward facing stuff.

      Of course a sample of three is nothing. But anecdotally, it's intriguing.
  • Skill problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whysanity (231556) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:36AM (#15189741) Homepage Journal
    TFA exposes the "problem" in both instances that the company reverted back to Microsoft:

    Lacking skill set

    Under that scenario, any OS switch would fail. You can't blame Linux (or Windows or any other OS) for that problem. Linux should be viewed as Linux, not Another Windows. You need proper IT support.

    Some of the problems were simply lack of knowledge. There were complaints of having to claim 3 passwords for VPN access and not utilizing a worldwide-accessible central information store. That's just laziness.
    • Re:Skill problems (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Reverend528 (585549) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:47AM (#15189827) Homepage
      I think this quote from the article really supports that theory:

      "If something breaks in Linux and you've got the knowledge, you can generally fix it and get it up fairly quickly by yourself."

      "The problem was that just one or two people in the group [out of 15 IT staff] could do that."

      • Obviously they missed step 1 in the Windows-to-Linux migration strategy. Go through the resumés of everyone in IT, and fire anyone who's top qualification involved the letters "M," "C," "S," and "E."

        And hire the next applicant in the door who only wants to know if free Mountain Dew is a company benefit and has a beard.

        No wonder they failed; they forgot the basics.
      • "The problem was that just one or two people in the group [out of 15 IT staff] could do that."

        I worked for a company that started with Windows 2000 and moved to Linux. Before Linux, we only had a part-time sysadmin. By part time, I mean he had other tasks to handle and if the computers did break, he'd go work on them. Everybody there was familiar with Windows so they did a lot of their own repairs. (It's worth noting that Windows actually played quite nicely with everybody. No BSODs, crashes, workstati
    • Re:Skill problems (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:59AM (#15189907)
      I agree completely. Any of what was described is workable by Linux. I know, because I've done it. The fact the the heads weren't willing to put the effort into it is their own fault. I would be more than happy to run my business on MS, but the fact is, it is NOT a stable or safe environment. I got so sick of the reboots and viruses and support of so many desktops that I went to RedHat and a central Xserver. I almost put myself out of a job as their are some days that I get NO support calls because everything just works. It's too bad that more companies can't be willing to put forth the effort because, in the long run, it would only make open source, or Linux in general, more robust and ready for an "Install and Work" OS for business.
      • A central Xserver works fine if your users are all on-site. The moment you need to do X over a VPN to allow people in other sites to do the same work, you might as well shoot yourself in the head now and save your users doing it to you in 6 months time. Or possibly your manager doing it to you at your next appraisal, when he figures out that every task his employees do takes 5 times as long to carry out.

        X was a great idea when all desktop machines were chronically underpowered, couldn't do any significant
        • Re:Skill problems (Score:3, Informative)

          by Trelane (16124)

          he moment you need to do X over a VPN to allow people in other sites to do the same work, you might as well shoot yourself in the head now and save your users doing it to you in 6 months time.

          or...

          Use NX [nomachine.com] or FreeNX [berlios.de] as your X.

          the Xorg and other x server devs are aware of the problem, and they're working towards solving it.

          • The point is that I don't believe it's a solvable issue.

            On a typical trans-Atlantic link on a typical corporate app (disclaimer: I do work for Ford, and I reckon their network setup is pretty much link everyone else's), an X app takes around 10 seconds between window shell appearing and full redraw of all widgets inside it. This simply ain't acceptable. The link is fast to transmit bulk data once the transmission is started (typical FTP speed is 30KB/s), but all the handshaking inherent in X means sending
            • The point is that I don't believe it's a solvable issue.
              My point was that you're wrong. My new point is that there are a number of ways to solve the long-latency-time issue, aside from going fat-client whole hog.
        • Best. Analogy. Ever!
    • Re:Skill problems (Score:5, Informative)

      by JWW (79176) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:00AM (#15189918)
      I don't know what will happen with mods on this, but here goes....

      In my experience I've found a striking number of highly technical, free thinking, smart IT people absolutely REFUSE to learn anything about Linux. Their world is all windows and if you try to get them to open up to new ideas they put their hands over their ears and shout "Na, na, na, I'm not listening!!!".

      Of course that means that they really aren't the highly technical, free thinking, smart IT people they're making themselves out to be.

      • Stockholm syndrome (Score:5, Insightful)

        by metamatic (202216) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:17AM (#15190043) Homepage Journal
        There's nothing new about the phenomenon, either. I remember research back in the 90s showing that Macintosh users were all familiar with Windows, but that Windows users were mostly completely ignorant of the Macintosh.

        In other words: Mac users who said that Windows sucked, generally did so from a position of knowledge, whereas Windows users who said that Macs sucked, generally did so from a position of ignorance. I expect it's still the case today, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that statistically, it's also the case with Windows vs Linux in the enterprise.
        • Not even that new... There where some people at the VII century that started to even destroy the new machines at the great migration of the time. Of course, today people can`t really destroy Linux, but refusing to learn is quite a small protest.

          Now, there are a few people that like Windows and complain about Linux from a position of knowledge. Up to now, I have met very few of them (in fact, I can only remember one), but Windows doesn`t suck universaly. Only almost all the time.

        • In other words: Mac users who said that Windows sucked, generally did so from a position of knowledge, whereas Windows users who said that Macs sucked, generally did so from a position of ignorance.

          In reality, both sucked. Windows 3.1 sucked harder than Mac OS, and Windows 95 sucked a little bit less than Mac OS.

          Thankfully Mac OS is dead and buried and we now have OS X to admire, and Windows improved with Windows 2000 but hasn't changed much since then.

          This sums up the "improvements" since Windows 2000: Wi

        • " Mac users who said that Windows sucked, generally did so from a position of knowledge, whereas Windows users who said that Macs sucked, generally did so from a position of ignorance."

          Kind of like how Linux users get modded up for making BSOD jokes. Position of ignorance and all.

          Of course, I don't expect this comment to last very long here.
          • The only reason XP/2003 stopped BSODing, is Microsoft made them automatically reboot instead. Once I turned off that "feature" I got my regular dose of BSODs.

            In contrast, I've had exactly 1 Linux crash ever on the same hardware.
            • "The only reason XP/2003 stopped BSODing, is Microsoft made them automatically reboot instead."

              Mm hmm. Meanwhile, I have personal experience across a wide variety of machines that XP and 2K does NOT BSOD. (I'm talking 20+ machines, not exaggerating.) Lots of people would back me up on this.

              NT != 95.
              • Yeah, and I have personal experience across a variety of machines (20+) that it does, and lots of people would back me up too.

                Now you blame device drivers and anti-virus software, go on.
                • "Now you blame device drivers and anti-virus software, go on."

                  Actually, I was just going to say I don't believe you. A stable Win2K/XP box isn't that hard to come by. You're either telling a tall tale or you've put the same piece of shit hardware in every single one of those machines. I'm going to laugh if you say they were all from Compaq.
      • This is exactly what I have here. I have an absolutely incredible boss, who's realistic, smart and in the thick of things. And yet he absolutely refuses to put even a single Linux box anywhere on the network.

        Go figure.

      • Of course that means that they really aren't the highly technical, free thinking, smart IT people they're making themselves out to be.

        Depends, doesn't it, on how you present "learn somethign about Linux"?

        If by "learn something about Linux" you mean, "Learn how you can replace all your existing infrastructure and retrain all your sysadmins and users", then of course they want you to go away. Their time is too valuable.

        Most IT guys I know are intrigued by Linux, are interested in learning more, but they know
      • Re:Skill problems (Score:3, Insightful)

        by digitalgiblet (530309)
        "Their world is all windows and if you try to get them to open up to new ideas they put their hands over their ears and shout "Na, na, na, I'm not listening!!!"."

        If you replace Windows and Linux in the previous sentence with any other competing ideas (or swap them), you will pretty much still have a valid point.

        People who have time, energy and money invested in Windows aren't going to want to switch to Linux. People committed to Linux aren't going to want to switch to Windows. Or Mac. Or Amiga for that

        • You're right about these sentiments exactly, there are a small number of Linux people who know nothing about windows, but most have to have at least working knowledge about the windows OS.

          What I was basically talking about was the refusal to learn anything new so that they can make informed decisions. I guess I always lean towards trying to learn as much as I can about a lot of things instead of learning as much as I can about one thing.

          Also, the knowledge of different systems and the differences between t
    • Right:

      For example, remote users struggled to grapple with a virtual private network (VPN) login system that required three different passwords to establish a connection. Furthermore, plans to introduce a customer relationship management (CRM) system floundered after it became clear that integrating CRM with the existing environment was simply going to be too much effort.

      Ultimately, it was the failure of a network interface card and a hard drive that taught IT systems manager Ross Forgione just how wide t

      • Couldn't LDAP-Kerberos have solved the first problem

        That's pretty much the root of the problem right there. You can get a 100 Linux Nerds to point you in a certain direction, but in reality, how many know how to set up LDAP/Kerberos/VPN so that it works?
    • Uh, whoa, think about this.

      If you can do with Windows the same things you can do with Linux, but it requires less specialized knowledge, doesn't that make Windows better?

      Of course the Linux community will say no, because the vast majority of the Linux community doesn't believe in software usability. God forbid you suggest that admining a server should be easy. Why, if it was easy, ANYONE could do it! Then how would we charge insane consulting fees? The High Priesthood of Technology must stand!

      Ok, sorry
      • Only it's not easy...
        It may be easy to get it "barely working"... but is that really the ideal situation? Without competent staff running them, windows machines deteriorate and collapse pretty quickly, as they become bogged down in crap and infected with malware.
        Unix machines if setup competently to start with, will just remain running but they too might benefit from occasional maintenence.

        Until systems are easily useable in a safe secure and stable manner, neither situation is suitable for unskilled staff.
  • by Rekolitus (899752) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:42AM (#15189786)

    "Previously, all the e-mails were effectively stored on the desktops and there was no central location of the data,"

    Perhaps it's just me, but it seems like these companies weren't applying Linux quite the intended way. Linux isn't a magic plaster you can throw over your IT problems, and frankly, I'm sure it does need a little more maintenance than Windows, but it seems like the people that set these systems up didn't put any thought into their infrastructure.

    Storing emails on the desktop isn't a problem that Linux creates. Windows seems more akin to something that says "This is the best way to store emails", whereas Linux is more like "Where do you want to store emails? It's up to you. I can't give you any advice." I'm sure these company's Linux-based experiences would have been much better if they did a bit more planning into the structure of the services in the first place.

    • Linux should need less maintnence, but it may well need more setup time.

      • On servers, both are true from my experience too. But there is a problem with this argument, Microsoft redefined the meaning of "maintence" and "set up". With Windows, "set up" is something you'll surely do every few years, and may do some times between when there is an "emergency". With Linux, all that are "maintance". Some Linux admins count even changing the functions of the servers as "maintance".

      • Agreed. Setting up the shell scripts can be painful at first, you might end up cursing at crond because it's not obeying crontab for some reason (problems such as: "oh wait, which crond variant do I have installed? Oh Vixie cron. THAT's right, that job needs a username to run under. D'oh!"), but once everything is set up you pretty much don't need to think about it. I don't know WHY the parent of your post was modded insightful.

        With Linux apps you don't need to resort to an insecure hack like having to in
      • If you... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday April 24, 2006 @01:26PM (#15191017) Homepage Journal
        ...change "setup time" to "setup thought", I would completely agree. The problem with Linux is not the time to set it up (which is roughly comparable to Windows, sometimes less), but rather the time it takes to figure out what you actually want.


        A simple example would be deciding on your e-mail system. Sounds easy, right? And it is. If you know - in advance - what sort of e-mail system it is you actually want. Just saying "e-mail" doesn't tell you very much. If you need a great deal of power in the mail processing engine, you're probably going to want Sendmail. If you need to blast through vast quantities of e-mail very quickly, Postfix is a better bet. If your company is relying on Exchange services, then you're looking at something like Open Groupware. If you aren't using Exchange clients, but do need similar services, then OpenXchange might do what you want.


        That's just for e-mail! Then you have to think about all other intranet services, which have a similar level of flexibility. Internal web services with static web pages will be better off driven by Tux. Java servlets, these days, really mean Apache, as they're the ones mostly working on that capability. Basic scripting with reasonable power and reasonably dynamic content would probably mean Roxen.


        If you want virtualization, you've three entire tiers - total machine simulation (vmware), heavyweight containers (xen) and lightweight encapsulation (vservers). If you want to admin the box, do you edit the config files, use Red Hat's scripts, use Linuxconf, or use webmin? And the list of options goes on and on and on.


        On the one hand, the choices give an aware user a fantastic level of power and almost superhuman control over their system. On the other hand, it means that you cannot approach this with a turnkey attitude. This should be no great surprise. You can drive a roadcar with a turnkey attitude and expect to get from A to B in one piece. This isn't going to work in a Formula 1 racing car or an X-15 experimental aircraft. Why should it? If you act as though these are all one and the same, your efforts to transfer over WILL fail. This is not a limitation of these vehicles, it is a failure to recognize that simplifications that are true in one case won't hold for the general case.


        Let's look at one of the big complaints I've heard for Linux - a lack of wireless card drivers. How many of those who are complaining have actually looked for additional drivers? My guess is that half the complainers have not, and that the majority of those would find that a project just as madwifi would provide the drivers they want. There are a few others listed on the Linux WPA Supplicant [epitest.fi] page. "But we don't want to install 3rd party drivers!" That wasn't the complaint - the complaint was that the drivers didn't exist. If I can find the drivers, and they DO exist, I will have zero sympathy for those who then come up with further excuses - because if the complaint has to change each time it's proven wrong, then all it is IS an excuse.


        My guess is that almost every single case of a company "needing" to switch from Linux to Windows will - on closer examination - prove to be a case of nobody bothering to figure out what the company actually wanted, OR nobody bothering to figure out how to get Linux to provide it. There will be VERY few cases - although such cases will happen - where Linux really isn't a good fit, which is a limitation of Linux, but I seriously doubt that more than one in a thousand migrations from Linux to Windows fits into that category.

        • In a business where IT isn't a core part of the business, what you really need, are skilled consultants going in to set up the initial system, and talking with management and staff about their requirements, providing limited management (add/remove users and little else) to management staff via a web based interface, and then coming back periodically to check on things.
          In situations where this has been done, it has worked well, and typically unix based systems have been chosen because there is little need fo
      • Ever heard of kickstart? All you have to do is configure *one* system the way you want it, then use the kickstart file to install the other systems (you can even it in conjunction with PXE boot). I'm sure other distributions have an equivalent system available.
  • David Braue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dajobi (915753) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:50AM (#15189844)
    Anyone know anything about the author of this story? That first story, the one about Austereo, looked kinda schilly to me, especially comparing what the author wrote to the quotes from the interviewee. Compare:
    After three years with Linux, however, Austereo began reconsidering its choice as continued growth in the company led to increasing complexity within its IT strategy -- exposing the limitations of the Linux-based environment in some very painful ways.

    This time around, things are working much better, with a full range of Microsoft server applications providing a deeply integrated, highly effective IT infrastructure that has significantly improved productivity and transformed information management within the company.

    Working with Microsoft consultants, he and his team sat down to map out their future infrastructure and found that their requirements could be easily met using an integrated suite of applications built on top of Windows Server 2003.

    After thorough discussions, Austereo committed to a move away from Linux onto an architecture combining Microsoft SharePoint Server, Exchange Server and SQL Server as well as Office 2003 and BlackBerry-related add-ons like the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. It was a hard decision, but even Forgione concedes he was impressed when comparing the company's existing and potential computing environments.

    To:
    "Importing our network environment and applications onto a new platform required some fairly specific skills, and those skills were not abundant within the group. As the business started to grow and we realised we needed to provide additional services to help people accomplish their day-to-day tasks, it became a very obvious and glaring issue."

    "The problem was that just one or two people in the group [out of 15 IT staff] could do that, and it was hard finding people who understood that [open source] isn't just about playing with these tools, but delivering something."

    Braue's version: Linux wasn't good enough, a Microsoft "solution" was required.

    Forgione's version: The IT staff didn't know how to use Linux. For some reason we didn't think hiring competent staff would be a good idea.

    What do you think?

    • Re:David Braue (Score:3, Informative)

      by romrunning (963198)
      "The problem was that just one or two people in the group [out of 15 IT staff] could do that, and it was hard finding people who understood that [open source] isn't just about playing with these tools, but delivering something. The moment we switched to Microsoft, the field opened up." I've seen this happen before when sometimes people are led to believe that OSS is the panacea for all their ills. However, you need people with a wide breadth of knowledge of different OSS applications in order to fulfill e
      • The impression I got is that it's ease to find Linux people that will recommend stuff because it's "Open Source, therefore Good", but it's hard to find Linux people that are actually objective about solutions and know what works and what doesn't

        You see this attitude on Slashdot frequently where second-rate software is pushed just because it conforms to someone's ideological agenda.
    • Re:David Braue (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scarblac (122480)

      I think a real practical problem for Linux is that competent staff for it is really hard to find in sufficient numbers.

    • Re:David Braue (Score:3, Informative)

      by NineNine (235196)
      Need to work on that reading comprehension thing a bit... You suggest that the company should hire some expertise, but the last line of the quote you used said explicitly that finding competent Linux expertise was difficult. That's a very valid point that you conveniently ignored.
      • Re:David Braue (Score:3, Insightful)

        by swv3752 (187722)
        The way I read it is that the Linux people they found would not rush something out the door. You typical Linux admin will want to go thorugh a rigourous testing phase and write up some scripts to automate all the regular process, while a Windows admin will slap something together and shout "It boots so it works". Managers are often pennywise and pound foolish so wil go after the Windows option.

        Additionally, they probably had unrealistic expectations of expertise. Most Linux admins would be willing to lea
        • The way I read it is that the Linux people they found would not rush something out the door. You typical Linux admin will want to go thorugh a rigourous testing phase and write up some scripts to automate all the regular process, while a Windows admin will slap something together and shout "It boots so it works". Managers are often pennywise and pound foolish so wil go after the Windows option.

          Exactly. They want someone who will get the job done, which more often than not (6 years of experience here), is
          • And everytime you rush something out the door, you have huge problems later on. Ever hear of a stitch in time saves nine? Rush something and you will forever be fixing it.
    • Re:David Braue (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RogerWilco (99615)
      Working with Microsoft consultants

      That's a significant part of the 'solution', they seem to say that they didn't have the knowledge inhouse to design an infrastructure that met their increasing demands, and they had 'MS consultants' to turn to for a solution.
      I think there might just be to few 'Linux Consultants' that are capable of providing this kind of service, even if the tools might be out there. Pitching them to management in the right way is a skill in itself.
    • I think a real practical problem for Linux is that competent staff for it is really hard to find in sufficient numbers.

      Need to work on that reading comprehension thing a bit... You suggest that the company should hire some expertise, but the last line of the quote you used said explicitly that finding competent Linux expertise was difficult. That's a very valid point that you conveniently ignored.

      I have one word for you gentlemen: training.
    • ...looked kinda schilly to me...

      Schilling thinly veiled as news from ZDnet?

      I am shocked... SHOCKED I tell you!

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:52AM (#15189862) Homepage Journal
    For one company it was all about Exchange and Sharepoint. Which are two weaknesses with Linux right now.
    Thunderbird is a great email client as is KMail. I use Thunderbird as my email client. What it lacks is the intergration of calendering that Outlook plus exchange offers.
    You can talk all you want about how a Calendar should be a stand alone program but Outlook as made the intergration of of the two very useful and in some cases mandatory.
    I have looked and looked for a good open source alternative and couldn't find one that was currently complete and worked for both Windows and Linux.
    Sharepoint also doesn't have a good open source alternative.
    Not every company needs these programs but it seems like a good number do.
    Now the other company that complained about needing three passwords for it's vpn? Well they sound like they needed someone that knew how to setup LDAP.

    Here would be a great project of an Ubuntu like disto. A small business server that included LDAP for a single sign on, Samba, a Sharepoint like portal, a CRM like Sugar or Tiger, optional VPN, and mail server with calendaring integrated right from the start.
    I want one.
    • You can talk all you want about how a Calendar should be a stand alone program but Outlook as made the intergration of of the two very useful and in some cases mandatory. I have looked and looked for a good open source alternative and couldn't find one that was currently complete and worked for both Windows and Linux.

      Have you looked at Evolution (Novell)? I haven't used it myself in many years, and when I did I was at a place (academia) that didn't use (or had much need for) calendaring, but by the look o

    • and mail server with calendaring integrated right from the start.
      I want one.

      the rest of your comment is somewhat coherent, but with this bit your true colors are shining through. Mail servers handle mail, period. Exchange may handle/maul mail (relaying for the world + his dog) but it's addition of a calendering feature does not mean that proper mailserver should have one.
      That does not fit the unix way: one program does one thing, and makes sure it is very good at it.

      Oh, and outlook does not fid your criter

      • "Oh, and outlook does not fit your criteria too: it does not run both on windows and linux (save some wine tricks)..."
        My office has dropped outlook except for some of the clerical staff and the owners :(. You can only do what you can do after all.
        I could have said must run under Windows as a requirement. For the most part running under Linux is a given for OSS programs.
        As far as the actual structure of the calendaring system I really don't care if it is structurally one program or two. What I do care about
      • Mail servers handle mail, period. Exchange may handle/maul mail (relaying for the world + his dog) but it's addition of a calendering feature does not mean that proper mailserver should have one

        Depends on whether you class Exchange as a "mail server", or whether it's a "workflow server". Whether or not you agree with it, having the calendar and mail client integrated brings a lot of benefit, not least of which is the fact that the transport for sending calendar invites (mail) and the method for processing

    • You can talk all you want about how a Calendar should be a stand alone program but Outlook as made the intergration of of the two very useful and in some cases mandatory.

      http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/lightnin g /index.html [mozilla.org]
      FTS: Lightning is a calendar extension for Mozilla Thunderbird. It offers calendaring features directly in the Thunderbird User Interface. Further integration features, such as e-mail invites or addressbook integration are planned for future releases.

      It is easily on its wa

      • We have not given up on OSS at all. In fact we are currently testing Asterisk to see if it will be our next phone system. We use OSS for many parts of our company. I do know about Lightning What I have not seen is a good server back end for it. You also pointed out that it is currently lacking e-mail invites and adderssbook integration. Those are two big things for some companies.
        I doubt that Outlook will return in force to my company or exchange. I would like some of the functions that they do offer right
        • What servers does Lightning use on the backend? IF your organisation is small then you could get away with subscribing to and publishing iCalendar files to a Webdav share -- in which case all you need is Apache. If you want something to scale a little more, you would want to use CalDAV (think HTTP + special verbs for managing calendars).

          There are several CalDAV servers available, I don't know how which ones are good and which are bad however. See this article [newsforge.com] for some pointers to server software.

          The other
    • i might agree on sharepoint (though there are cases when svn or some other data synchronisation solution would be sufficient), but you mentioned kmail.
      as far as i know, kolab server + kmail supposedly provides pretty decent calendaring solution.

      then you can go in different direction and functionality with openxchange, evolution etcetc.

      somebody suggested lightning - and i am eagerly looking forward to what will become of it, but it really is in very early alpha stage right now (i have tried a couple of recen
      • Kolab and kmail are as far as I know Linux only solutions. We are currently stuck using Windows for at least some desktops. What a lot of people don't seem to get is that the OS is going to be the last thing you change on an desktop. If a company can get all Linux versions of all their software that they are currently running only then will they move to Linux. That is why OSS that runs on both Linux and Windows is key to moving people off of Windows.
        • the OS is going to be the last thing you change on an desktop

          indeed, because even though gradual migration will take longer time and resources, it allows sloppier planning, fsckups are less serious and human factor (resistance mostly) is smaller.

          Kolab and kmail are as far as I know Linux only solutions. We are currently stuck using Windows for at least some desktops.

          kmail might run on windows with qt/kde 4, but that's a weak consolation :)
          there are connectors for outlook-to-kolab (http://www.kolab.org/kolab [kolab.org]
  • by denverradiosucks (653647) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:02AM (#15189935) Homepage
    I hate Microsoft as much as the next slashdotter, but being an IT manager, I wouldn't want the headache of using one OS.

    Linux has its advantages. I was able to scale an old Windows 2000 server, Windows NT Server, and a useless company proxy server into a single, consolidated Gentoo System. Does that mean I want to switch everything else, including our accounting databases over to Linux? I couldn't handle the headache. Microsoft's AD is easy to use, we have 2 2003 DC's, including one Terminal server. There is no way I would use something line Wine to get Great Plains working with any sort of consistency. They work reliably as they are now, upgrading to service pack 1 was easy, and managing user accounts is simple (not saying account management in linux isn't).

    To the company's that switched from one OS to another, mixed environments are easier, at least for me. Each OS plays an important role, and has advantages/disadvantages. Sure, you had to pay $1,000's to buy Windows software, but you would probably spend that much hiring Linux guys to come in and support your system because there isn't enough expertise to handle these systems. It's a two way street I have found.

    Any sort of penetration into
    • I submitted before finishing my comments. Any sort of penetration into the Windows world through Linux is a great step in the right direction. It's just not ready to replace windows on all levels yet.
    • You use Gentoo in a production environment? Urgh. At least you now have two spare computers for cross-compilation.
      • You use Gentoo in a production environment?

        Gentoo is great in a production environment: it's stable (unless you ask for non-stable branches) and very, very easy to maintain as well as very fast with security patches.

        The downside is that it can be conservative in what it judges to be the "stable release" of packages, so you can trail behind the cutting edge sometimes if you absolutely refuse to have "testing" versions of some packages. But that's a reasonably good thing in a production environment.

        TWW

        • I've been a Linux admin for several years. I just started a new job a few months back and they have several Gentoo boxes. When these boxes are replaced/rebuilt or otherwise they will not get Gentoo again. Don't get me wrong. I am a Gentoo fan, but it has no place in my enterprise environment. I needed to add some network troubleshooting software to a box and it took 50 minutes to negociate dependancies, download, and compile the software. When time if money and it is in an enterprise environment! Wait
          • I needed to add some network troubleshooting software to a box and it took 50 minutes to negociate dependancies, download, and compile the software.

            What was the software?

            TWW

            • netcat, iptraf, and lsof. Which I do remove them after the job I set out to do completes. Sysstat utilities took the longest to install, and it's IMHO that systat is a godsent and I shouldn't have to wait over an hour to have it installed. My RHEL servers install faster than that.
              • Sysstat utilities took the longest to install,

                That's really strange; sysstat took a grand total of 22 seconds to install for me, including the download, on a 2.26GHz Celeron. Perhaps your portage directory had been damaged in some way?

                TWW

          • If you want to install software quickly, then gentoo is an unsuitable distribution, although you could have used binary packages with it anyway.
            Debian is a better choice in situations like you describe.

            I use a large number of gentoo machines for production purposes (the flexibility of use flags is great) i don't just go installing new apps on a whim, indeed doing so has no place in an enterprise environment. If i want to install any new apps on a server, they have to be thoroughly tested on test systems fir
    • I hate Microsoft as much as the next slashdotter, but being an IT manager, I wouldn't want the headache of using one OS.

      You are a rare and valuable IT manager. Most IT managers seem to argue the opposite -- they want a monoculture so they only have to learn and manage one thing.

      I'd rather work with an IT manager like you any day.
  • I'd be much more interested in the experience of desktop users.

  • by brokeninside (34168) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:19AM (#15190053)
    In the linked article, 2 out of the three companies migrated to Microsoft solutions based on services available from Microsoft because their internal IT departments didn't have the requisite knowledge to keep entirely open source solutions up to speed with regards to internal growth. The third company remained with Linux as a result of Linux services offered by Sun as part of a package with new Opteron based servers.

    The other interesting bit is that a key part of decisions made in all three cases was the available software. The first two companies went with Microsoft because of Sharepoint. The last one stayed with Linux on Sun hardware because of 64bit J2EE.
  • There are just too many references to "hidden costs" and the inability to find qualified admins -- one part even talks about moving to MS being part of the reduction of IT staff and another about consolidating five servers to two... who'd believe that? I seriously get the feeling that the first two stories were scripted in some way. Can't put my finger on exactly what tipped it off, though.
  • A revealing number (Score:2, Insightful)

    by romrunning (963198)
    In looking at the numbers, both of the organizations that went back to Windows had over 1,000 employees, and the other example listed had a little over 100. Both "back-to-Windows" orgs cited complexity as one of the reasons for the return to Windows. Is it possible that Linux developers have been too focused on each individual app rather than how the apps interact with each other? Who is responsible for the overall vision?
    • by 51mon (566265)
      I don't think so -- I think it is simply dearth of experience in the area.

      Whilst ISPs have been using free software solutions for user management for years, and love it because they can easily integrate any old third party software without coughing up money. You could probably group all the people who deployed such in a small stadium.

      Skill in big directory services type skill on Unix/Linux is pretty sparse on the ground. Probably a lot more people like me around who've done integration with relational datab
  • Australia needs Linux IT Pros.

    They have nice weather in Australia right. http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDE00902.loop.shtml [bom.gov.au]
    Oh still not too different then FL. Excuse me while I check Monster.com, G'Day

  • Note that the one Linux success was for a classical, pure, high volume server application. The failures were where there was a premium on collaboration across multiple sites and use of multimedia. In short, Linux still shines as a server, as it has for many years, and still sucks for anything else at the enterprise level. No, I'm not a Microsoft troll. I'm just pointing out that the open source development model has yet to deliver the tools many big corporations need.
    • The main problem I see from the two companies that went back to windows is a complete lack of planning on the initial Linux install. As someone else has pointed out, the Windows migration seems to have been planned out to the letter whereas the Linux migration was carried out in the heat of evagelical ardour, never a good thing. If the Linux migration had been planned out as well as the Windows migration appears to be, would they have had the same issues?
  • After reading the article (yep, I did read it), it seems to me that for the two companies that switched back to Windows, the Linux-switch was not very well planned and the needed skillset was not there. The switch back to Windows was on the other hand very well planned.
  • Interesting notes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tweek (18111) on Monday April 24, 2006 @02:10PM (#15191381) Homepage Journal
    While I'm a Linux/UNIX guy through and through, I understand times when Microsoft makes sense. If your core comptency is Windows, why the hell would you switch without expecting growing pains.

    Having said that, and not begrudging the first two companies for switching in the least, let me point out a few problems I see (based ONLY on the article body) that stood out:

    Austereo:
    "For example, remote users struggled to grapple with a virtual private network (VPN) login system that required three different passwords to establish a connection"

    - I'm curious what VPN solution they were using. I would think that from a pure cost perspective, going with a hardware VPN solution that provided hooks for existing authentication integration would have been a wiser choice.

    ""We were assured that there were procedures and processes you could follow to recover down to the individual message, but when it came to reality, it was a lengthy process and an absolute nightmare.""

    - This is most definately a problem with most entirely opensource solutions. Zimbra has integrated message level restore into its product but having dealt with most open-source imap solutions, I have a feeling the solution had to be developed in house. I know how to read maildir filenames but YOU tell me what the hell email this is:

    1145900957.V804I55c4037.mail.servername.com:2,

    ""Importing our network environment and applications onto a new platform required some fairly specific skills," he adds, "and those skills were not abundant within the group."

    - This is the crux of the problem as mentioned earlier. I don't think they had the skillset on hand to manage the infrastructure.

    The other problem I see near the end of that page is that they did a full desktop migration to Linux. This was probably the biggest mistake they made.

    Coffey:

    "The way they set up their Linux-based infrastructure had promoted the silo mentality; information wasn't stored in any sort of intuitive manner, and it wasn't easy to access information across the various geographical areas. If you weren't in the Brisbane office, for example, you couldn't access that information. There was just nothing from the information point of view that was encouraging collaboration."

    - Poor design can happen in Windows just as Linux. This isn't a Linux-only problem. Sounds like a lack of planning or initiative to do things right from the start. I understand that business moves fast but you end up shooting yourself in the foot and having to redo things if you don't think about these things up front.

    "After four months, Microsoft Active Directory and Exchange Server 2003 had replaced now-discontinued Linux servers to provide a consistently managed, centralised messaging infrastructure across 20 Coffey offices. "Previously, all the e-mails were effectively stored on the desktops and there was no central location of the data," Parsons explains. "That's a nightmare both because of litigation, and because of duplication across the company and all the problems that duplication brings."

    - Sounds like someone needs IMAP and not pop3. There are also plenty of turnkey email solutions for litigation archiving as well. Most of these implement a SMTP gateway to your existing system.

    ""They initially thought Linux was going to be a cheaper platform," he says, "but as soon as they started to expand they became aware that the hidden costs of Linux were all over the place -- not only in real dollar terms, but because they weren't using the environment intelligently because of the [limited] skill sets.""

    - Again it looks like another case of lack of skillset available.

    Wotif.com:

    Nothing specific jumped out at me. One thing I thought was interesting was the amount of planning(!) that went into the switch. I also notice mention of actual vendor support contracts.

    "Wotif's strong adherence to plain-vanilla J2EE development"

    "Oracle10g Standard Edition"

    "We did a very critical pilot for th
  • A smooth running enterprise runs a mix of both Windows and Linux. Today Linux isn't ready for the collaborative areas of enterprise. (Sales, marketing, or executives) Although, you always have the grunts in the office space and they general can use Linux as a desktop. For the server market Linux can and should carry the most load. There are area where Windows is better. (Exchange as a collaborative suite over an SMTP & IMAP/POP3 mail operation) On the other hand, MS SQL server has some nice feature

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