I just read an interesting if short blog from Ann All about Linux in the SMB market. Basically, the question is: How far has Linux penetrated into small and medium sized businesses?
That’s a great question.
I’m a big fan that, in most situations, the best product is the most supportable product. Now, with a platform choice like the one people make between Linux and Windows, there are a lot of variables that go into “supportable”, including:
* Knowledge of the OS. Easy enough. Do you have the knowledge, or can you find someone that has the knowledge, to manage the servers. Far too often I see people with Windows and Linux servers that are horribly configured and frighteningly insecure.
* Vendor support. Does the vendor actively support the product at a reasonable cost? This one bullet item could start a flame war, but I have to say that I don’t think either side is better than the other on this. At the end of the day, most SMB-level organizations have to pay a vendor for post-installation support.
* Community support. Again, another flame war possibility here, but in my opinion both the Windows and Linux camps do well here. If nothing else, both camps have some very smart people in forums and newsgroups that can help.
* Third-party support. Okay, here is where Windows has a lead. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of really cool commercial applications for Windows and not so many for Linux.
All that said, Linux really packs a punch when it comes to upfront costs. Most people use free versions of Linux (e.g., Debian, CentOS), the servers run powerful and free software (e.g., Apache, PHP), and it just works.
So why isn’t Linux in more than “a fourth” of SMBs?
P.S. And of course, there is PHP on Windows..