Anti-Linux Comments Rile Supporters
June 19, 2003
That is the upshot of a recent editorial by Rob Enderle, a respected research fellow for Forrester Research, who made his comments "not to get people to stop using Linux but to really think through the decision, and if they decide to deploy the platform, be better prepared to defend it and protect themselves and their company."
Enderle's criticism of Linux set off a firestorm of protest on Internet message boards, many noting that he did not base his arguments on technical points but on "fuzzy" issues, such as the risk surrounding the intellectual property suit brought by SCO and the foul language used by Linux supporters.
Some Linux vendors refused to be pulled into the fray. "I'd really rather not debate Rob point for point," Joseph Eckert, a spokesperson for SuSE Linux, told NewsFactor. "He's got his opinion and we disagree with it, as do many of our customers."
But others were happy to poke holes in Enderle's argument against deploying Linux in the enterprise. "My initial reaction is that I would strongly but respectfully disagree with his piece," Jon Perr, vice president of marketing at Ximian, told NewsFactor. "It doesn't accurately reflect what's already taken place in the market."
Linux already has a mature software and services ecosystem in place with the likes of IBM (NYSE: IBM) , Hewlett-Packard, Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) , Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) and SAP (NYSE: SAP) supporting the operating system in some way, Perr said.
Enderle's article focused on the benefits of the open-source model instead of what enterprise customers see as the primary benefit of Linux: cost and control, Perr said.
"There are many areas of computing both on the server and desktop side where being able to deploy a low- or no-cost Linux OS on commodity hardware can bring great savings to organizations," Perr said. And Linux gives the enterprise choice in terms of vendor ties, he added.
"It's not merely a question of companies accessing source code or having better leverage in their relationship with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) , but having the ability to work with multiple vendors. With Linux or the open-source model, you can work with multiple OS vendors and have options in terms of service providers," Perr explained.
Enderle's criticism of Linux's suitability for the enterprise minimizes the progress Linux vendors have made in understanding the importance of interoperability and standards for the enterprise, according to Perr. "We're doing a much better job with enterprise customers than 12 or 24 months ago," he maintains. "Centralized control in a decentralized development model was a challenge in the past, but that's rapidly changing."
Despite his overall disagreement with Enderle's opinions, Perr said the analyst did make some valid points, such as the need for the Linux industry to be very clear on what the business justification is for running Linux in the enterprise.
"The freedom and value of the open-source model are important, but at the end of the day, lowering the total cost of ownership and streamlining support and management costs are essential to enterprises," Perr said. "At times, some of the figures in the open-source community get sidetracked on philosophical issues about the value of open source as opposed to the concrete benefits to enterprise customers."
Linux vendors have to "speak the language of benefits that enterprise customers understand, Perr said. "That part [of Enderle's article] is a helpful piece of advice."
Enderle could not be reached immediately for comment.