[lug] Analysis of Windows servers.

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Sun Oct 22 01:34:27 MDT 2000

Hi Kevin,

I have problems with most of the "statistics" used to rate one OS over the
other for any particular *purpose*, because the purpose is usually left out.

Both OS's do a good job at *what they do*, however, there's no way to
compare apples to apples with this type of number crunching.

I'm a HUGE Linux/BSD/Solaris bigot.  However, I would NEVER use it for many
of the things our IT group needs to provide.  I use it for servers that
handle web applications, DNS, and custom Perl code that does billing and a
number of other things.

If someone came up to me and said we needed file sharing for a large network
of NT laptops and desktops?  You think I'd say "Use Samba"?  No way.  I'd
easily turn your numbers upside down and make Unix the most expensive option
out there for the *job to be done*.  Samba and a couple of inexperienced
admins and you can have a real mess.

NT Server on the appropriate hardware and a good NT guy is going to be a
better choice here, and in that case the Sysadmin is probably cheaper too.

However, if I had a 200,000 message a day list server to put in...

You get my point, I'm sure.

So I think a better metric is to measure a computer OS/system by *WHAT IT
BRINGS IN*.  And guess what?  There are times when a good old fashioned
filing cabinet with paper in it might be a better bang for the buck than
Larry Ellison's latest gee-whiz Oracle whiz bang web-enabled database
server.  Which one has more flash and will probably be purchased by
management...?  Depends on how many brain cells they have and how seriously
they take their responsibility to pick the correct path for the company.

So when measuring OS's, look at what the OS does for you.  If the
application doesn't make the value of the company go *up* every time it's
used, then there's probably a misuse of technology going on.  (Government
and non-profits not included, of course... pure research rarely makes

Maybe the better idea embedded in these numbers is to look at what systems
are going to require a lot of machines and consider using Unix for those
distributed systems.  If you truly can use less admins at a lower cost and
the *desired result* in the software can be done on Unix, then maybe it's a
good idea.

I dunno, I just like to argue late at night on a Saturday.  :)


> From: Kevin Cullis <kevincu at orci.com>
> Reply-To: lug at lug.boulder.co.us
> Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 13:04:03 -0600
> To: BLUG <lug at lug.boulder.co.us>
> Cc: Bob Beauprez <bbeauprez at heritagebanks.com>, Peter Faber
> <Peter.Faber at Level3.com>, John Zakhem <johnzakhem at uswest.net>, Lynn Danielson
> <lynnd at techangle.com>, Sam Owqen <Sam.Owen at techforall.org>
> Subject: [lug] Analysis of Windows servers.
> I was recently given some numbers by a manager from a company's
> corporate office who was looking at deploying Linux within his IT
> department as a pilot project.  Below are some of his numbers with some
> added arguments of my own.
> -----------------
> Argument #1: Numbers
> Here are his actual numbers from his presentation:
> Server   Admin'ss   Salary's    # of CPUs
> ------   --------   --------    ---------
> UNIX        3       $75,000        45
> NT         30       $50,000       180
> Now, most managers would look only at the salary of an individual and
> say that it's cheaper to run NT than UNIX. In my Quality Assurance
> circles, this type of focus is called suboptimization, only looking at
> the smallest part. This is the prevalent thought pattern of most
> managers and is taught by our educational institutions (and Gov. Owens
> wants to grade our kids on these errors. OK, I'll buy into the fact that
> kids will get an A, in communism ;-). Extreme comment, but you get my
> drift). And guess what, some managers would fight tooth and nail to make
> sure that the NT administrators salary's are going down over time!!  In
> QA circles, this is focusing on COST only, not productivity!
> But, let's look at the REAL numbers.
> Ratio
> Server   Admin's   Salary's    # CPUs  Srvr/Admin
> ------   -------   --------    ------  ----------
> UNIX       3       $75,000       45      1:15
> NT        30       $50,000      180      1:6
> So, one UNIX administrator takes care of 15 machines as a rule versus an
> NT administrator takes care of six machines. Now, let's look at the
> total cost of the salaries:
> Ratio        Total
> Server   Admin's   Salary's    # CPUs  Srvr/Admin     Cost
> ------   -------   --------    ------  ----------  ---------
> UNIX       3       $75,000       45      1:15       $225,000
> NT        30       $50,000      180      1:6      $1,500,000
> Now, if you were to take the 1:15 ratio and convert the NT servers to
> UNIX, what would the cost be (180 servers divided by 15 administrators):
> Ratio        Total
> Server   Admin's   Salary's    # CPUs  Srvr/Admin     Cost
> ------   -------   --------    ------  ----------  ---------
> UNIX       3       $75,000       45      1:15       $225,000
> NT        30       $50,000      180      1:6      $1,500,000
> UNIX(new) 12       $75,000      180      1:15       $900,000
> **BOTTOM LINE: The difference (SAVINGS!) between the NT and UNIX(new) is
> $600,000 in first year savings ALONE!! In addition, that's a 50%
> increase in a persons salary!!
> But, let's be conservative, let's use a 1:10 ratio.
> Ratio        Total
> Server   Admin's   Salary's    # CPUs  Srvr/Admin     Cost
> ------   -------   --------    ------  ----------  ---------
> UNIX       3       $75,000       45      1:15       $225,000
> NT        30       $50,000      180      1:6      $1,500,000
> UNIX(new) 18       $75,000      180      1:10     $1,350,000
> That's still a SAVINGS of $150,000 a year and every year after that!!
> -----------------
> Argument #2: Licensing
> How many of you have actually read Microsoft's licensing agreement?  I
> would gather very few if not none.  Did you know that Microsoft's Office
> licensing is costing you at least three times as much compared with the
> recent licensing agreements? Here's how. Office 4.2 licensing agreements
> allowed you to place Office on 3 separate machines, work, home, and
> laptop.  Today's Office 2000 licensing agreements allow only one
> software package for EACH computer.  You've just tripled your costs!
> For migrating from Windows NT to 2000, I don't have his numbers, but
> figure that there is going to be cost increase in purchasing Microsoft's
> licensing, even from the same specs of an NT to a 2000 license. Oh, and
> by the way, Ingram Micro, Merrisel, and Tech Data all have salesmen who
> deal in Microsoft licensing all day because of it's complexity in Level
> A, B, and C.  Whereas Sun charges you a one time fee of $75 for a
> Solaris 8 CD for Intel machines and you're free to run it on any number
> of machines.  But if you want, you can go down to your local computer
> store and buy a copy of Linux, with manuals, for anywhere from $30-150
> and run it on any number of machines you want, too.  Or, got to
> Linuxmall.com and order the $2.00 CD without the manuals or download it
> for free if you've got the bandwidth.
> # CPU
> Software                     Cost              Cost (30)
> --------                     -----             -------
> 2000 Server+5 Clients       $400 One server   $12,000
> Sun Solaris                  $75 Unlimited        $75
> Linux(runs on more hardware) $30 Unlimited        $30
> By the way, each different name of Windows refers to a different OS, how
> much, I don't know, but they still are different even if the icons stay
> the same. ;-)
> -----------------
> Argument #3: Education and Support
> To send each administrator to the Windows 2000 server training would
> cost about $2000 per administrator per class and Sun's three
> administrator's classes cost about $2000-2500 per class.
> Total
> Admin's   Cost/Training              Cost
> -------   ------------             --------
> 30          $2,000                   $60,000
> 12 UNIX     $7,500(3 classes)        $90,000
> You can get support packages from Microsoft, Sun, and Redhat Linux, but
> I didn't have the time to look them up, but I would expect that they
> would be in the same ball park, thousands of dollars!
> -----------------
> Argument #4: Maintenance
> Most computer people recognize the key metric in computers is uptime,
> the amount of time the server/computer stays up without crashing.
> During the roll out of Windows2K, Bill Gates had a slide which ACTUALLY
> stated that Microsoft recommended that you reboot your Windows
> servers/computers at least every 3-5 DAYS!! UNIX has uptimes of MONTHS,
> not days!!  Would you trust an aircraft or car manufacturer with stats
> like that? Then why are you satisfied with such low quality in computer
> software? Demand better!
> Now a figure which I'm not privy to is, how productive (happy?) are the
> System administrators between UNIX and Windows? I.e. how busy with
> fixing things are Windows administrators versus UNIX?  The fallacy of
> most managers is that the NT/2000 folks are busy fixing things and are
> definitely earning their keep whereasa UNIX administrators have things
> running smoothly to begin with allowing them to spend more time
> IMPROVING things than trying like Windows administrators just to keep
> things staying afloat.  Quality folks, quality!!
> -----------------
> Argument #5: Security
> Did you know that there are over 50,000 viruses for Microsoft products
> (as of last year this time).  Do you remember the ILOVEYOU virus and
> it's variants? In UNIX, there are virtually NO viruses, although they
> can be written.  Why?  Because most UNIX people understand their
> computers better and have better habits than Windows administrators.
> Don't forget the cost of lost or stolen data by black hatted crackers
> (hackers are white hat computer people), lost productivity while
> computers were down, and slower patch fixes to proprietary software.
> -----------------
> Argument #6: Small businesses
> IF you're a small business, outsource your UNIX administration work
> since remote administration of UNIX has been designed in from the very
> beginning. The only thing which a remote administrator has to worry
> about is someone having to turn the computer off and on again in case of
> emergency, which is VERY RARE!!  Besides, your uptime will be so long
> that you'll almost forget you had a server.
> -----------------
> I hope I didn't bore you with too much. If there are any glaring error,
> let me know so that I can fix them, or if you have info which
> Oh, and what was the reaction of the CIO and CFO of this type of
> analysis?  "Why would we want to migrate?"  Maybe a thing called
> production?  Cost Savings?  Go figure, I did and they still didn't like
> the numbers.
> Kevin

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