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Microsoft Cheaper For Web Serving? 135

Posted by Cliff
from the some-seriously-wacked-numbers-goin'-round dept.
Tinman_au asks: "Bink.nu has an article titled "Leading Belgian Hosting Provider Realizes Lower TCO on Windows than Linux" that asks the following: 'Many total cost of ownership (TCO) studies have reaffirmed that TCO of a large enterprise infrastructure based on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 is lower than one based on Linux. But what about TCO in a Web hosting environment?' In the table of figures, the cost area breakout lists labour for Fedora at 77.88% with Windows .NET with SQL Server 2005 as only 53.15%. Admittedly, the report was done by Microsoft itself, so I guess it couldn't exactly be considered impartial, but not being a web admin I found myself wondering, is Windows really that much easier to look after in a web server environment, or has Microsoft fudged some numbers?"
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Microsoft Cheaper For Web Serving?

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  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday November 24, 2006 @08:57AM (#16973240) Homepage Journal
    and tag this one "flamebait"
    • by QuantumG (50515)

      Nah, netcraft confirms it, Slashdot has jumped the shark.
    • by arivanov (12034) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:21AM (#16973416) Homepage
      Disagree. I will tag this as "Logical Development".

      This study perfectly describes the problem with many Linux/Unix deployments out there. They are done by people who take the approach which they have grown accustomed to on Windows, Novell and the like and try to transfer it to Linux/Unix. This approach is best described as "everything you cannot do with the vendor tools must be done manually" and "we only use commercial/vendor software". When using this approach Linux/Unix invariably results in higher TCO because the price of labour is higher and level of one-click moron-friendly automation is lower for most cases.

      When doing Linux/Unix work writing your own tools and assisting yourself in automating tasks is a part of the job and Sysadmins who do not possess the skills should not allow themselves to claim that they are Linux/Unix Sysadmins. From there on, if you estimate the costs of running and deploying systems without taking this into account you invariable come up with Windows being cheaper.

      That is the reality, face it move along and ignore the study. While it was using the right analysis methods it was analysing deployments which do not use the correct design and process for either system. If you use design and processes which are wrong for one system it is not particularly surprising that you get bad TCO for it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        I think the reason that you can say the TCO of windows is lower is because you can pay some brain dead monkey to be a sysadmin, and have it work. It won't be well optimized, and it won't be completely secure, but for the most part it will work. Now consider Linux. You can't just really pay some guy with an MCDBA/MC??? or equivalent to operate your systems, because there isn't really any equivalent of that in the Linux world. Even most self taught Linux people are more knowledgeable than a lot of the "Mic
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Chi-RAV (541181)

          Now consider Linux. You can't just really pay some guy with an MCDBA/MC??? or equivalent to operate your systems, because there isn't really any equivalent of that in the Linux world. Even most self taught Linux people are more knowledgeable than a lot of the "Microsoft Certified" people out there. So, because the Linux tech actually has more talent,

          Thats a nice sentiment, but you cant hire people on the basis of "im self taught". In pretty much any professional setting you will have to show your qualifica

          • Sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Dion (10186)
            ... if you're a digger operator.

            Certifications are worthless.

            What matters is real-world experience and before you have any of that there is formal education to get a foot in the door.

            In the company i work for there is noone who has any certifications, execpt for a few people who got them by accident before being hired, there are plenty of good people who know everything there is to know about Solaris, Oracle, Linux, Java and C++ though.

            What is a certificate good for other than to show that you can think ins
        • by arivanov (12034) on Friday November 24, 2006 @11:06AM (#16974436) Homepage
          You are half the way there in your analysis.

          Studies like this actually take into account the fact that the Unix/Linux sysadmin on the average is 20%+ more expensive.

          They are wrong elsewhere.

          They do not take into account that a selfrespecting Unix/Linux sysadmin will automate everything he/she can and will not repeat everyday mundane tasks. Instead of this they still count the time which is essential to maintain and patch the systems towards the TCO bill and multiply it by their number (correcting only for vendor tools to assist rollout where applicable). There is no correction for ad-hoc scripting and no correction for productising ad-hoc tools for internal rollout. Further to this many places go into the idiocy of prohibiting such internal software development. In fact I know one or two places where such activities are a sackable offence.

          I have stopped counting how many times over the years I have heard the "We are not software developers" mantra from PHB wannabies. That is the damn difference between a high level Unix sysadmin and a Windows sysadmin in the first place. The Unix sysadmin can write in at least 2-3 rapid development languages - (k)shell, perl and/or python and the reason why he/she gets more money is exactly this. Paying him this money and not using this ability is stupid, but this is what many places do as a matter of policy. It is no wonder that places like this have better TCO under Windows compared to Unix/Linux. That is to be expected and that will continue to be the case until they start to automate mundane operations in-house, formally maintain the automation and productise/package it for internal use.

          In fact the TCO numbers for systems like the one in the article (1000+ of slightly customized commodity software on commodity OS) come out in favour of Linux/Unix even if this activity is subcontracted out. They do not come out right only when it is prohibited and the work is done solely via vendor supplied tools.
          • by porkThreeWays (895269) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:06PM (#16975726)
            I think you hit on a REALLY good point in there. In my *nix administration, I have no daily activities! I've written programs for them all. This is almost impossible to do for most GUI's in general and more so with windows. I've always found the task scheduler to be a very weak replacement for cron and windows event log to be a weak replacement for syslog. The funny thing is... I do actually have a report I have to run manually once a week, and it's for the single windows box I maintain.
          • by Sprinkels (41102) on Friday November 24, 2006 @04:49PM (#16977840)

            They do not take into account that a selfrespecting Unix/Linux sysadmin will automate everything he/she can and will not repeat everyday mundane tasks.

            I see no reason why a selfrespecting Windows sysadmin would not do the same.

            That is the damn difference between a high level Unix sysadmin and a Windows sysadmin in the first place.

            Actually, to a high level sysadmin there isn't a lot of difference between administrating Windows and Unix like operating systems.

            It's a prejudice to assume that scripting like on Unix is not possible on Windows. On the contrary, many Windows sysadmins use scripting tools to automate everyday mundane tasks. In fact even the archaic MS-DOS from the eighties has its own scripting language built in. Which is used even today by nearly all Windows sysadmins.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by walt-sjc (145127)
              I see no reason why a selfrespecting Windows sysadmin would not do the same.

              Maybe because MS has gone out of their way to make automation Very difficult, instead pushing the pointy clicky interface for everything, and hiding all useful information in binary blobs inside the registry. Command line interfaces are klunky at best, and usually poorly documented. Yes, you can write applications to munge the registry, but it is a PITA. You don't bother writing automation applications unless you have a LOT of serve
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by arivanov (12034)
                Exactly.

                And as the subject of the article is TCO in terms of TCO customised per-site Windows automation costs much more then similar Unix automation. As a result it is worth it and justified financially only for very large installations. Everything else aside the tools (VB, ActivePerl and friends) cost money and you need a reasonable number of servers to get return on investment.

                Custom Unix automation as means of reducing your TCO starts making sense from one server onwards. Tools are part of the platform a
      • by Foofoobar (318279) on Friday November 24, 2006 @11:54AM (#16974890)
        Speaking as someone who set up a LAMP architecture for a Microsoft vendor, my uptimes dwarfed those of IIS with the only time I had to take the server down was for software updates. The time it took me to do my makes and set everything up perfectly the way I want took a couple hours (not that different from Windows). When I left, they decided to switch everything over to an ALL WINDOWS environment. Not counting costs involved in switching all applications over, they had to spend almost $100,000 to duplicate the setup I had for free with open source. Costs in setup are minimal in LAMP, longterm savings and uptime are HUGE!! Also with LAMP, I'm a one man army. In my old company, they had to hire contractors for the DB work separate from the web dev. More labor, higher costs. With LAMP I can keep my costs very very low. This is yet again 100% FUD from Microsoft
    • Alas... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I am, even as I type this, taking a break from trying to deploy a PHP app to a different server than the one it was developped on, and the amount of fiddling required to get both installations of PHP to work in a compatible way is mind-numbing. And costly. Turns out that PHP broke backwards compatibility again in its last version, which breaks the app, and the previous version against which the app was developped (5.1) has a security hole so that's a no go either.

      I can heartily believe that in such a situat
      • "I am, even as I type this, taking a break from trying to deploy a PHP app to a different server than the one it was developped on, and the amount of fiddling required to get both installations of PHP to work in a compatible way is mind-numbing"

        What is mind-numbind is the hugh amount of completly lacking people who call themselves "php developers"; of course they are not "php developers" since they are not developers at all.

        That's not exactly a demerit on the PHP side, since that means that people without a
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Lalakis (308990)

        Turns out that PHP broke backwards compatibility again in its last version, which breaks the app, and the previous version against which the app was developped (5.1) has a security hole so that's a no go either.

        2 things:
        1) Chances are the app you are working with was badly written in the first place
        2) You should have used a SUPPORTED distribution, appropriate for this kind of work. If for example you had used Redhat Enterprise Linux then redhat would have backported the patch for the security bug to y

      • by Bert64 (520050)
        Older versions of PHP still get patched for security holes, i`m sure you can run a patched version of 5.1...
        I run a patched version of 4.x, since some of my older apps don't work with 5
  • Typical (Score:2, Interesting)

    by techno_dan (591398)
    Yet again, another study show lower TCO on the windows platform. From years of Real experience I can say that this is not and will never be true, at least in the short term. The reason I say this, is that I can get more flexibility and horsepower out of a none MS deployment. This is not to say that MS products do not have their place, just that the studies are always narrow, and extremely limited in scope.
    • by epine (68316)

      The original studies are not so narrow in scope as you suggest. It's just the one selected for publication after all the negative results are burned that comes across as narrow.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spiked_Three (626260)
      You are saying the right thing, but not qualifying it correctly.

      There is absolutely more horsepower and flexibility in the *nix environment, BUT; There is a steeper learning curve. Given 2 admin that are experts in each, *nix will give you more. Given 2 newbs, the Windows environment will get you up and running a medium complex web site faster, cheaper. The majority of enterprises work that way, newbs and short on staff.
    • Typical? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday November 24, 2006 @10:37AM (#16974112)

      Ironically, I suspect your comment actually demonstrates why, in real terms, a lot of businesses find MS cheaper.

      You may get more horsepower and flexibility out of a non-MS environment. That's great, and makes non-MS the way to go if a business is employing people like you.

      Now, would you describe yourself (being honest) as a smarter-than-average sysadmin, a Linux/Mac/whatever specialist, an experienced geek...? In other words, are you a typical sysadmin that a typical company will hire, with typical experience on the various platforms, or would such a person require more experience/training/skill to get the same good results out of non-MS systems that you do?

      On the flip side, do you (being honest) have less than average experience/skill with MS systems, perhaps as a result of specialising elsewhere, and would you therefore require more training and expertise to get the same quality of results others do out of MS server software?

      Obviously, I can't read your mind, and I'm not going to put words into your fingertips by guessing your answers. But I can make an educated guess that there are a lot more people around who know how to get OKish results out of MS stuff than there are who know how to get much better results out of non-MS stuff, and that the MS-using folks therefore tend to be easier to find and cheaper to hire. That has a major effect on the bottom line of a business, and is why (for many places) MS is going to look like the safer bet on TCO grounds for at least a while yet.

    • The company in question according to the article is hostingbasket, so lets check it out: Linux [hostbasket.com] and Windows [hostbasket.com].
      Their "basic" packet starts at 8 euro / month for linux hosting and 10 euro/month for windows hosting
      Now, how about hostingbasket and microsoft ? well, I'm going to be honest, I don't know much about how msn works but this company has its own subdomain on msn http://hostbasket.msn.be/ [hostbasket.msn.be] , so this study looks a bit odd to me
  • What you're used to (Score:3, Interesting)

    by andy753421 (850820) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:03AM (#16973260) Homepage
    For me it's 10 times easier for me to fix up an httpd.conf or some .htaccess files and set some permissions with chmod/chgrp, but for other people using the IIS dialogs or whatever might be easier.

    If I gave my grandma a IIS machine and a putty window SSH'd into an GNU/Linux/Apache box I'm guessing she'd get farther with the IIS machine, but on the other hand if you give those to seasoned veterans I would bet the apache box would be set up quicker.
    • by julesh (229690)
      For me it's 10 times easier for me to fix up an httpd.conf or some .htaccess files and set some permissions with chmod/chgrp, but for other people using the IIS dialogs or whatever might be easier.

      I tell you, it's easier to configure IIS by editing config files as well. And given that's the way MS teaches their MSCEs to do it, too, I guess that's a fairly universal feeling, too. Web servers are complex applications that aren't usually well-served by GUI configuration.
      • by Ucklak (755284)
        I don't know what kind of crack you're on but I'm a MCSE from the NT4.0 era and i don't remember any editing any config files for IIS4.0.
        More over, any migration tools that exist for IIS4 to IIS5 never worked 100%.

        A backup of a httpd.conf will work on any and I mean ANY apache server of the same type and it's pretty trivial to get setup, almost as trivial as setting up an IIS server.

        Never had backup of meta data files work for any IIS installation for a server migration, always had to resetup by hand.

        Also,
        • by CerebusUS (21051)
          IIS 6 uses xml for it's config files, it's not quite to the level of "copy one and have it work anywhere" but you can (very easily using either the GUI or a command line tool) export one or more configs from one IIS box and import them on another. The level of success you have with this depends on your particular application. Much like if you've chosen to define your virtual hosts under apache by IP address, you're gonna have to change those IPs to match the new box, for example.

          As for logrotate, it's cer
  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by a16 (783096) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:04AM (#16973264)
    I work for a reasonably sized host (ie. thousands of unique clients, not 25 clients like your average host who will probably reply here), and as we are a completely linux (CentOS/Fedora) host, our operating system licensing costs are $0. If we were running Windows and SQL server etc, I'd estimate that our licensing costs per year would be 5-6 figure figures for commercial MS licenses for the number of servers that we have and the MS software that we'd need.

    We have staff to administrate the servers, and we'd need them if were to manage windows servers. We generally only ever have 1-2 technicians available at any one time to manage all of our servers, and we'd need that many if we were managing the same number of Windows servers too. Ignoring start up training costs, which really only exist if you're migrating from Windows to Linux, staffing costs are absolutely no more for managing Linux boxes than Windows, I'd argue the opposite. Infact, if we were to migrate to Windows tomorrow, as TFA is saying we should - there would be huge initial licensing and training costs, I imagine more so than moving a Windows staff to Linux.

    Sponsored by MS means this can be ignored, why do we keep posting this stuff? :)
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:40AM (#16973580) Homepage Journal
      That is why this TCO says Linux is higher. If you look at all the numbers Linux is lower on everything except Labor. They quote almost a 100% over Windows labor. Obviously this is because they can't find anyone capable of performing Linux system administration.

      I wouldn't say this would translate to the rest of the world because your labor pool is going to vary from county to country, city to city and even among different companies. For this place in the world, at this time, this is probably correct. However, all you can extrapolate from this study is that for this place in the world, at this time, Windows is cheaper to run than Linux "for them." For everyone else you have to do your own TCO.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by julesh (229690)
        They quote almost a 100% over Windows labor.

        You have to wonder about the quality of their Windows admins who are willing to work for half of what Linux admins are.

        'Cause you can't be telling me that a Windows server needs less maintenance time in the hands of sombody who knows what they're doing. I like to think I do, and I manage web servers running on each platform (Windows Server 2003 and Debian Sarge), and I'll tell you now I spend much less time on the Debian one. Updates are easier to apply, and the
        • by Bert64 (520050)
          What i find the biggest problem of all...
          On the debian (or any other unix) servers, you only need to patch what you have installed, and you only have installed what you need, so the numbers of patches are relatively small and can usually be applied without rebooting.
          On windows however, not only must you patch the apps you actually use, but you need to patch things like ie and outlook express and directx etc, things that are designed for end users workstations and have absolutely no place being installed on
      • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

        by alexhs (877055) on Friday November 24, 2006 @10:37AM (#16974118) Homepage Journal
        If you look at all the numbers Linux is lower on everything except Labor.
        You're not the first to fall for these meaningless values, but you're the highest moderated.

        Percentages are meaningless if you don't take total cost in account.

        Multiplying percentages by the given TCO you get (in eurocents per site/server/month):

        (.Net 2000, .Net 2005, Linux)

        Hardware 5.49 2.75 2.77
        Network infrastructure 5.06 2.53 2.41
        Operations and Network Mgt. 17.48 8.76 8.40
        Power 1.69 0.84 0.85
        Bandwidth 43.39 21.19 36.34
        System software 12.90 6.45 3.31
        Application software 50.02 28.64 22.75
        Back office software 44.22 22.09 22.10
        Labor 211.76 105.77 348.12
        Downtime charges 0.00 0.00 0.00

        But when you look at percentages, those for SQL 2000 and 2005 are quite similar. It means that one real server under SQL2005 hosts twice as much virtual servers as SQL2000.

        I will let to others in-depth critics about the methodology.
        Just that quote from the full report [microsoft.com] (emphasis mine):
        "Hostbasket experiences a lower TCO on Windows than Linux because our support cost for Windows is lower and because our developers and system engineers have better knowledge of Windows than Linux," notes Hostbasket Chief Operating Officer Alex Van Overloop.
        • The results look totally nuts. How can it be that changing from 2000 to 2005 halves every expense? I'd be a little hesitant but accept labor, the only thing I can see is that since the cost of hardware halved, there must be half as many boxes, but the fact that they are using half as much bandwidth implies... their subscription level also halved?
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      There is one way that Microsoft might be cheaper than Linux. That is if you take in account the cost of development and acquiring software.
      If there is an open source application available that suits your needs then Linux or BSD is cheaper.
      However if you have to custom write the application may be cheaper to do it under Windows if you already have Windows development experience.

      Here is the ugly truth that FOSS faithful don't want to admit. The advantage of closed source commercial software is cost.

      Closed sou
    • by seebs (15766)
      Licensing isn't the whole story for TCO.

      That said, given the huge difference in hardware requirements and licensing, and the comparative ease of maintenance of many things, I have to wonder what exactly is being compared.
  • But these TCO reports have never made sense to me. Microsoft works out cheaper in the long run? Because of the new power saving features in the OS? Does this TCO report run over a period of 20 years?

    Cause, and the thing that boggles me...
    LAMP is Free!
    • by xoran99 (745620)
      Microsoft works out cheaper in the long run? Because of the new power saving features in the OS?

      Incidently, according to the itemized costs, Linux cost less to power.

  • [I]s Windows really that much easier to look after in a web server environment[?]

    No.

  • by xoran99 (745620)
    Isn't it strange that, in all categories but labor, the Linux solution was much cheaper? Why would it use less bandwidth? Why would the network infrastructure be cheaper?

    In any case, I'm tired of TCO stories. Every last one of them is flamebait, and now I've read my last one.
    • by Hijacked Public (999535) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:19AM (#16973380)
      Why would it use less bandwidth?

      Patch Tuesday?

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        You were modded funny, but you could well have made a good point. I don't know what the average volume of patches is for a typical webhost running Windows, but I know it's pretty low for Debian stable. Whether that makes a dent in overall bandwidth costs is another story...but for low-volume sites, this could well be the case.
    • Why would it use less bandwidth? Why would the network infrastructure be cheaper?

      Http pipelining, mod gzip (windows gzip compression doesn't do all file types by default), default keepalive settings are different.

      The only "network infrastructure" cost differences that I can think of... Leme think. With linux you can bond almost any two "cheap" nics, but with windows, you need driver support? Naw, I don't think that's it. I guess "fewer servers".

      Ultimately, I don't think that they needed "more labor
    • by Calinous (985536)
      Remote desktop connection to your server (from your out-of-state client) as compared to a text terminal into a unix-like server. Why would the network infrastructure would be cheaper? This I don't know...
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        Don't forget that remote desktop is fundamentally insecure...
        Not only does it quite happily tell users what OS it's running and what domains it can log into, but it's vulnerable to an easy man in the middle attack because it does absolutely nothing to ensure your connecting to the host you think you are. Unlike SSH, which checks the host key and will scream at you / not let you connect if the host key is wrong.
  • This is the same old "Windows is soooo much easier to use"
    I have been working as a SA/DBA in webhosting environments for about 10 years now and this is mostly fud.

    My experiences are that Windows are quite easy to install and do some basic setup but operating MS boxes compared to Linux are tedious and absolutely more timeconsuming.
    The first problem is that connecting from remote location is slow.
    Working with a GUI is slow.
    Automation is either not possible or a lot more timeconsuming than on Linux.
    Searching i
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you look at a large ISP (e.g. 1&1) that offers both Linux and Microsoft hosting, guess what, the Microsoft plans cost more. Now, is this because:

    a) The ISP has found Linux hosting has lower costs, so they pass this on to be competitive
    b) There isn't good competition for Microsoft hosting, so prices are higher
    c) The Microsoft-funded study is correct, hosting on IIS is cheaper, and all those ISPs just got their sums wrong
    d) Other
    • by Shados (741919)
      Hmm, i'm looking at 1&1's web site -right now-, and clicking between the Linux and MS Hosting plans tabs, and I see no difference in price for the equivalent plans. Am I missing something?
    • It's because of licensing fees.

      For example:

      SQL Server - $200 per month, per CPU
      MySQL - $0

      Windows Server 2003 - $20 per month
      Linux - $0

      These aren't prices we made up, we pass the charges from MS directly to the customer.

  • Link to Report (Score:2, Informative)

    by achillean (1031500)
    Here's the direct link to the cost analysis report: TCO Report [microsoft.com]
    • by julesh (229690)
      Right. And now we see why these people have higher Linux costs than Windows costs.

      More than 92 percent of Hostbasket's nearly 20,000 active shared hosting sites run on Microsoft Windows Server 2003

      OK, so say they're running around 400 servers. They have 360 Windows servers and 40 Linux ones. Those 180 Windows servers probably need a team of about 10 people on site at a time to run them (i.e. approximately 36 servers per admin). The Linux ones, though, probably they have 2 people for managing them -- you

  • Old motor oil a wonderfull fertilizer.
    Smoking keeps your lungs healthy.
    CO^2 dampens greenhouse effect.
  • ...is Microsoft to right when they say their products are better than the competition?

    Yeah, and come on Sony, is the PS3 really more fun than the Nintendo Wii?
    • by yendor (4311) *
      In some ways they are much better than Linux. Mostly on giving graphical access to configuration and the stupider 1st liners can take care of a lot of easy issues if they get a good manual and a clear description of the fault.
  • burn... - would be my humble reply without reading the body of this terrible question.
  • The proper conclusion is that it costs much more to fail to train your sysadmins.

    The admin jobs that work out cheaper on MSWindows are actually lack of admin in a lot of cases, too.
  • Let's keep this on a simple level - the financial costs to a hosting outfit between Windows and Linux, assuming all other factors are equal (same labor requirements, same hardware, same rack costs, same power/bandwidth costs)...

    The Windows hosts that I operate in my hosting business cost me $10.00 per machine per month in licensing fees. The Slackware Linux hosts that I operate in my hosting business cost me $0.00 per machine per month. The database on both machines is free: SQL Express 2005 on Windows a

    • by mgblst (80109)
      Amazingly, this article wasn't talking about you.

      I hate to be a Microsoft apologist here, but what you said was stupid. The realy issue here, is in finding the people to setup and manage Microsoft servers vs Linux Servers. What Microsoft is basically saying, is that there are more people out there, and they cost less, who can configure Microsoft servers. This is probably because they are easier for people who aren't that familiar with networks to use. It is difficult to refute that.

      OK, I am sure you find it
      • What Microsoft is basically saying, is that there are more people out there, and they cost less, who can configure Microsoft servers.


        Until next week, when they'll bring out a report saying "Be a windows SysAdmin, it pays more than Linux, here's a report that says so."

    • Because you're not running a hosting business if the only costs you'll mention is the $10pcm difference between an upstream provider's Windows hosting or virtual server package and the same spec linux package.
  • Admittedly, the report was done by Microsoft itself

    Doesn't this mean that the report is useless and should be totally disregarded? I mean, do you really think that if their findings had been that they were more expensive, they would still have published?
    • by julesh (229690)
      Admittedly, the report was done by Microsoft itself

      Doesn't this mean that the report is useless and should be totally disregarded?


      No. It makes it marketing material, rather than an independent report, but a lot of people read marketing material, and often rely on information that it contains. Therefore we need to have good answers about why the conclusion it reaches is wrong, about why either (a) the business they are describing as being better off running Windows servers is atypical or (b) some assumpti
    • I don't know. Maybe I'll ask a forum full of Linux fans for their unbiased opinion. ;-)

  • Today, in a surprise statement, a Microsoft spokeman announced that the TCO report they had previously published was incorrect. He said "We looked at the figures again, and realised we had made a mistake. The Microsoft solution is actually more expensive. We don't want to deceive anyone so we went public with this immediately, it was the right thing to do."
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:49AM (#16973650)
    The only area that Windows costs are cheaper in this study is "Labour".

    Typically, your windows admin is a little cheaper. Typically apache can handle more virtual domains more reliably and requires fewer staff to manage. If you have 2 Windows staff and 2 Linux staff then Linux could be seen to be more expensive. The question is, do you really need 2 Linux staff, are they spending half their time idle? Are you using best infrastructure practice to manage your machines or are you installing each by hand? Are the Linux staff simply more senior within the organisation and therefore paid even higher? Or if you break it down by domain rather than by server, do the costs come out the same?

    The study is deliberately oversimplified to hide the details of where the money's going. After all, it's propaganda.
     
    • by yendor (4311) *
      I agree.

      Another thing I was thinking was that they are mainly a MS company doing hosting for such sites as MSN.be
      With a much larger MS side the numbers swings to their favor. Having much less Linux usualy means that there is less experience and less skill in the organization. Result is that it simply takes longer for people to fix problems.
      I remember trying to manage colleagues in aa previous job. About 200 servers and about 1000 sites from a very large dutch company maker of lights and electronics. I was o
    • "The only area that Windows costs are cheaper in this study is "Labour"."

      no you miss the point - you are looking at the percentages. That means that windows has a lower proportion of labour costs. Which isn't surprising as (for example) it has a higher proportion of System Software costs (not that this could account for the huge proportion difference seen in the figures reported though).

      However all of this is completely irrelevant as they list the .NET 2 / SQL 2005 TCO as 1.99 while the .Net 1.1 / SQL 2000
    • by alexhs (877055)

      The only area that Windows costs are cheaper in this study is "Labour".

      Wrong, as answered by SkunkPussy. I've posted relevant numbers [slashdot.org] earlier and they tend to confirm the remainder of your post. Please read it before reading further this one.

      Typically apache can handle more virtual domains more reliably

      It's not the case here compared to the SQL 2005 setup. Looking at hardware and power costs, each physical host is hosting roughly the same number of virtual hosts. However Linux setup gets 171% as much traffic as SQL2005 setup (that is 71% more, but the report prefers larger numbers).

      and requires fewer staff to manage. If you have 2 Windows staff and 2 Linux staff then Linux could be seen to be more expensive. The question is, do you really need 2 Linux staff, are they spending half their time idle? Are you using best infrastructure practice to manage your machines or are you installing each by hand? Are the Linux staff simply more senior within the organisation and therefore paid even higher?

      They're employing unexperienced Linux staff.

      Or if you break it down by domain rather than by server, do the costs come out the same?

      That'

      • by Khazunga (176423) *
        It's not the case here compared to the SQL 2005 setup.
        What is SQL 2005? Is there a new standard? The last one [wikipedia.org] was already confusing enough.
    • by fermion (181285) *
      It is my experience that MS does a good job with coding standard processes in such a way that a minimally trained person can execute those processes to create standard bussiness environments. In other words, if one uses MS products, then one can hire cheap labor to get things done. This is a very useful thing. I certainly have, at time, benefitted from their work. There is no reason for firms to pay to reinvent what has already been done.

      However, a side effect of this is that one has lower skills work

  • and thats it.

    linux is very well supported by phletora of web hosting aiding applications to the extent that it makes administration too easy. the efficiency you gain is much more worth in terms not having to spend extra paychecks for additional i.t. staff.
  • I work for a charity, and we run Windows 2003 on our web servers.

    I'd have to agree with the findings, simply because any idiot (like me) can run a Windows 2003 server. All you need is Windows experience (which everyone has nowadays). Linux requires special knowledge and/or training. I know any techie worth his/her salt will have this, but not every company has a handy Linux geek. Not to mention if your Linux geek is on holiday, you need another Linux geek to make the simplest of changes... sorry to say thi
    • by julesh (229690)
      I work for a charity, and we run Windows 2003 on our web servers.

      I'd have to agree with the findings, simply because any idiot (like me) can run a Windows 2003 server. All you need is Windows experience (which everyone has nowadays). Linux requires special knowledge and/or training.


      I'm afraid your comparison is invalid. While I'm sure you're right for your own environment, the one we're talking about here is a company hosting 19,400 web sites of which the majority are based on dynamic content. I don't kno
      • It also seems, in my experience, that Linux/Apache requires a lot less labor to maintain compared to Microsoft systems. Although the cost per sysadmin may be lower (since the market is saturated with people who can cram for the MCSE and cough up the testing fees) you end up hiring more of them, and of course they end up spending more time patching, fixing security breaches, going through the 5 R's of Windows support[1], etc...

        And, of course, license fees.

      • [1]

        1. Retry
        2. Restart
        3. Reboot
        4. Reinstall
        5. Reformat
    • Have you tried webmin [webmin.com]? You'll find it make Linux boxes much easier to manage, possibly as easy as Windows
    • All you need is Windows experience (which everyone has nowadays). Linux requires special knowledge and/or training. Why it is that on Windows you call it experience, whereas on Linux you call it 'special knowledge'? It is the same thing.

      Linux isn't user friendly enough for the average workplace drone to administer. ...and nor is Windows, if you want to make sure it's done right. It requires some "special knowledge" to get things right.

      most small/medium companies can't afford to hire somebody extra purel
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``I'd have to agree with the findings, simply because any idiot (like me) can run a Windows 2003 server. All you need is Windows experience (which everyone has nowadays).''

      Not me. Sure, I can click the widgets and eventually figure stuff out, but I don't have anything that resembles experience. I wouldn't know where to begin if I had to install IIS or ASP.Net, let alone know how to fix things if they break. That last part is quite important, and, to be honest, I know few people who actually know how to fix
    • by Bert64 (520050)
      The reason for not hiring a linux admin in a small business like that, is because once the linux admin has the initial systems running, he will spend the rest of his time doing very little, waiting for a new customer so he can spend all of 10 seconds logging in and adding a user.
      For this reason, you perhaps only need 5% or less of a linux admin's time, so this is where outsourcing comes in. If you have a consultancy who supplies you with linux admins, after the initial setup 99% of the work can be done remo
  • (and where can I get some?) I'm an admitted supporter of Microsoft technologies, but that just doesn't add up for me. The percentages on the report sound reasonable - the spreads would fall mostly to labor for any Linix boxes. What I don't see, however, is the reason that labor would be so much more. The only ,hing ,that I can even come close to seeing is that 17,000 windows sites and 1,500 Linux sites. Posibly economy of scale? Now a more reasonable explanation is that if you have an average of (as an
  • I already have a web server on my Pentium 1. It came with Damn Small Linux. And I can upgrade to Apache anytime I like. For free. And my other Linux machine came with Apache installed. So the cost probably has something to do with training tech people who don't know what they're doing.
  • Since they are talking about web hosting, it seems like the comparison should not be between MS and Linux, it should be between IIS and Apache.

    If you want to compare MS and Linux, then web hosting has nothing to do with it, the question goes back to what server OS has a higher TCO.

    Meh, I think the flamebait tag is apropos in this case...

  • I too think that this Microsoft orchestrated TCO evaluation is complete FUD. In my own experience as an web application & virtual appliance developer, deploying and running a Linux solution is much easier than a Windows solution. First of all, with Linux you can easily make a bare bone installation and then add specifics that you need. With Windows, you can't really make a bare bone installation, thus you have to spend time closing unneeded services. In second there is the big fact that open source soft
  • by tbannist (230135)
    I work for an ISP, Windows is more expensive to run and maintain, it takes more time and most importantly has large start up costs. You can fudge these number in any number of ways, by not including any additional functionality in your web hosting. By cutting out the database backend and email, you save money on the Windows side on paper (Exchange and MS SQL costs $$$) but save little on the Unix side. In practice you can't do that and run a real web hosting business, but in theory you can do so to fak
  • by petard (117521) * on Friday November 24, 2006 @11:45AM (#16974790) Homepage
    Then hosting companies are behaving irrationally, including the one that is the subject of the study. If it costs less to operate a Windows platform than a Linux platform, then the hosting companies would rather have their customers use Windows platforms. This would lead them to price the Windows packages lower than the Linux packages; after all, if windows were cheaper, they could do that and still be more profitable.

    Hostbasket, the subject of this study, is not doing that:
    Their basic Linux package is 8 Euros/month [hostbasket.com] and their basic Windows package is 10 Euros/month [hostbasket.com]. So if the results of the study were true, this pricing scheme would be quite irrational.

    Looking at other hosts, this seems to hold up. interhost [interhost.co.uk] wants 19 GBP/month for Linux versus 25 GBP/month for Windows. Over at New York Internet [nyi.net] accepting all the defaults for their BSD plan nets a quote of about $42/month; a similar Windows-based plan is $64/month. And over at hosting.com [hosting.com] their managed hosting plans for Windows servers start at $230/month while the same plans for Linux start at $195/month. I was able to find, over at 1and1, shared Linux hosting and shared Windows hosting that cost the same.

    I was not able to find any provider that offered cheaper Windows hosting than Linux hosting.

    So, assuming that everyone behaves rationally, if the numbers in this study were accurate at all, the hosting provider that is the subject of the study would offer cheaper Windows hosting than Linux hosting. They don't. If the numbers in this study were generally applicable, you'd find that most hosting providers who offer both would offer cheaper Windows hosting than *Nix hosting. They don't. I can only conclude that the study is bogus in some way and shouldn't be trusted, since it fails to predict rational behavior in a very open marketplace (i.e. one with very low barriers to entry). Businesses are very good at thinking with their wallets, and if this study were true then there's a huge money making opportunity that everyone is letting go.
    • by srvivn21 (410280)
      Perhaps the cusomters find more value in a Windows host than a Linux host?

      While a Cadillac Escalade certainly doesn't cost significantly more to produce than the Chevy Suburban it's based on, it manages to command a significant price premium. Cost does not dictate price.

      *shrug*
      • by petard (117521) *
        The Escalade and the Suburban follow the pattern, though. The Escalade costs more to make and is priced higher. A Suburban with comparable features (but lacking those that are exclusively available on an Escalade) costs $51k here. An Escalade costs $55k. I happen to have just priced these out for a friend :). Dunno how significant $4k is on a $50k vehicle or how that proportionately lines up with cost.

        But it's extremely rare to find a product that costs a seller less to provide selling for more money than o
  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:19PM (#16975862)
    Well, it takes me approx 1.5 hours to setup a new webserver from scratch (i.e. no OS installed, no formated or partitioned disks, etc., nothing), which runs Solaris 10 (I know, it is not OSS yet, but will be soon), my own custom compiled Apache from latest source release, PHP, and MySql.

    Trying to figure out how that is more expensive then Windows. If anything, I just saved myself 6 hours of patching the OS from WindowsUpdate (update, reboot, update for the updates, reboot, update for the updates to the updates, reboot, update one more time, reboot, check that there are finally no more updates). That is correct everyone. Last time I installed Windows XP Pro, it took 4 windows update sessions before there were no more patches left, and it was an SP2 install disk as well, just imagine if you had the original WinXP Pro disk, add 2 more windows update rounds to that number (SP1 and then SP2).
    • by Bronster (13157)
      It takes me under 10 minutes to set up a new Debian server from scratch, complete with all our custom software - just ready to start it up and run it.

      That is:

      a) boot under kvm to find out hardware addresses (or just boot and read the DHCP server logs)
      b) add the hardware addresses, hostname and "class" list for that machine to a file and commit to subversion
      c) "make install" from the dhcp config directory
      d) boot machine with netboot turned on
      e) log in via ssh and start services

      this all on machines in New Yor
  • Windows administration is the burger flipping of the computer industry. It's expected these people will work for less, as the work they do involves little more than taking orders from the screen.

    Take the people out of the equation, and any FOSS solution is far, far cheaper.
  • by ElectricRook (264648) on Friday November 24, 2006 @03:12PM (#16977002)

    It's not the first server that is cheaper, it's the N'th server that's cheaper. To drive a mouse around on one MicroSoft server is easy, little training required. The second is only a little more expensive.

    The real economy is when you have big numbers of servers. When using cron to drive your admin scripting and SCP to change that scripting. That's when UNIX varieties really shine.

    An army of admins are needed to admin a bank of Microsoft servers, one or two smart admins can easily handle several banks of UNIX servers, and have time to contribute to /. too.

    especially at upgrade time.

  • It should be noted that these figures have been normalized to compare Windows-based and Linux-based servers running at a full density of sites per shared server. At the time of the study, the Windows-based servers at Hostbasket were running at only 60 percent of full density and the Linux-based servers were running at only 35 percent of full density. Building out these services to achieve full site density may entail more than just a linear extrapolation of labor costs, as more personnel may be needed to s

  • This is a study of a single client, which pretty much guarantees the results aren't universal. The client admits that their developers and engineers are more familiar with Windows. All the Linux sites are dynamic, while only half of the Windows sites are. The doofs are running a desktop oriented operating system on servers (Red Hat Enterprise or CentOS would make a lot more sense than Fedora).
  • Been Both Places (Score:3, Interesting)

    by W. Justice Black (11445) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:01PM (#16979902) Homepage
    I've been a professional Windows SA and a professional Linux SA in various parts of my career. Relevant observations follow.

    Installation:

    Windows - Nearly trivial if all you care about is MS tech and don't need a database. Somewhat less so if you need, say, php and a database. Integration can be mitigated across several systems via Ghosting. Er, not really server-side. Ghosting IIRC is rather verboten in Microsoft's mind.

    Linux - Trivial if you use the distro's packages. Significantly less so if you need to integrate, say, Tomcat with Sun JVM or Oracle. Integration and configuration can me mitigated across several systems via configuration management (cvs, svn) or via scripting or via just copying working configuration files to server #n+1.

    Configuration:

    Windows - Simple if you're not doing anything terribly interesting (and most people don't). Configuration replication is significantly more difficult. Incremental configuration changes (e.g. adding another site) can be scripted if you REALLY know what you're doing or are using third-party tools like Plesk.

    Linux - Somewhat complicated if starting from scratch, especially with Apache 1.3 and single config files. Easier if starting with Apache2 and separate config files. Integration of third-party things can be somewhat difficult. Easy to "roll back" changes using a configuration management system, and relatively easy to script incremental configuration changes.

    Updates:

    Windows - Easy for base system via Windows Update. Somewhat more work for third-party components.

    Linux - Easy for base system and perhaps all components that would be considered third-party above. Somewhat more work for third-party components (but the list of "third party components" is smaller than that for Windows, as PHP/MySQL/Postgres/Whatever are part of the distro).

    Performance:

    I think the endless performance arguments are counterproductive. Linux "feels" faster, but that's not quantifiable, and there are countless ways that tests can be structured to optimize for one architecture or another, especially once you toss application layers (xxMP, Tomcat, CF, etc etc) in there. If performance really matters that much, an organization probably has enough resources that they can make a better evaluation for their payloads than politically-motivated third parties anyway.

    Conclusion:

    I'm not really going to say anything that others haven't said better elsewhere. If you're looking at one departmental or small business web server, Windows is probably easier to start out with, especially if you don't have the talent to grok Linux right off the bat (that gap is shrinking year-over-year, but it's still there). Once you're looking at any real scale (and want to do things like actually replicate configurations and the like), Linux is far more useful and probably cheaper in scale.

    That said, Hostbasket itself charges less for its Linux offering than it's Windows one, and (at the most conservative), Windows is more expensive in every area except labor and (bizarrely) bandwidth if you multiply out the percentages with the calculated TCO number. They're showing Linux as 3.5x more expensive in labor than .NET 2.0, which is dubious in my mind. There's a story here that's not being told--3.5x is a huge jump and there's got to be either a juicy story here that looks bad for Linux (unlikely, or it would've been publicized) or something structural that may invalidate the whole study (more likely, by elimination).
  • I always wondered, when you have multiple sites in a shared hosting environment using IIS... What user does dynamic content like asp scripts run as? Is it a separate user for every site, do all the sites run as the same user (iis user etc?)
    Usually with most apache setups i've seen, everything runs as the apache user.
    • From what I've seen on our Plesk servers IIS runs scripts as the IIS_Domainuser by default, you can set up separate application pools though.

      Apache runs things as a regular user if you have suexec enabled, and php can also run as a normal user in CGI mode (phpsuexec).

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