Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Dangerous Minds

Saturday, December 28, 2002  

The last post reminded me of something that I rarely see in TCO comparisons -- the cost of training on Microsoft products (including certification) vs. the cost of training on Linux products. Windows knowledge appears to be considered ubiquitous and is therefore never factored in. What's interesting is that everyone who finally does achieve some level of expertise in Windows (be it 2K, XP, et al) has much of that knowledge obsoleted in the next version of Windows. .NET server appears to be no different. If Windows is expected to change every three years, staff knowledge should be considered to depreciate along the same lines as hardware. That means there's a skill upgrade cost that never gets mentioned. Although Linux can be intimidating for those who haven't been exposed to it, the good news is that once you've learned the basics of the install, command-line tools and whichever GUI you've standardized on it doesn't change much. The applications on top of it might change often but the underlying system is not going to undergo radical revision like Windows.

This is one of the tremendous advantages of using Linux in the back office. Once the staff has learned Linux basics they don't need to relearn it every three years. DNS is a separate application. LDAP is a separate application. Apache is a separate application. SMB file/print sharing...well, you get the point. Yes, these apps will change often. On the other hand, if all you want to do is upgrade to the latest Apache, you don't have to upgrade the whole damned OS and get 1000 new features you didn't need but must master or else an interdependency somewhere may cause some unintended consequence you spend a day troubleshooting. I guess that's one way to enforce learning the features of the OS but I prefer a somewhat less totalitarian method.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 12/28/2002 10:16:00 PM

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