Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Studies show Open Source is cheaper than Windows (2002)

An open source group reveals studies which show that using open source yields lower Total Cost of Ownership than Windows.

Open Minds Philippines, a coalition formed to promote the use of free and open source software, revealed the results of several cost studies, disproving Microsoft's claims that Windows systems have a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than Linux/open source systems.

"These studies ought to confirm in the minds of those in government and business what we have been saying all along," said Emmanuel Amador, Open Minds spokesman. "Using Linux and other open source software instead of Windows simply makes more economic sense."

Open source software differs from its commercial proprietary counterparts in that the source code, or programming, used to create the software, is made available for the public and may even be freely modified and redistributed. Most open source software is available at very low cost or even for free. In contrast, commercial software developers typically keep their source code as closely guarded secrets and often charge exorbitant licensing fees.

The first study, "Total Cost of Ownership for Linux in the Enterprise" released in July 2002 by the Connecticut-based Robert Frances Group, contained TCO data surveyed from mid- to large-sized companies. The survey concluded that "...Linux was the least expensive platform to deploy and operate. Although some initial costs were higher at points, the ability to massively scale the product horizontally without paying additional licensing fees can yield significant cost savings over the long term."

The RFG study also found that Windows systems had higher "soft" costs. These included costs due to the historically poor security of Windows. "Survey data showed that Windows installations require twice the number of administrator hours on average spent patching systems and dealing with other security-related issues than either Solaris or Linux," the study said.

This was followed by Brendan Scott's "Why Free Software's Long-term TCO is Lower." Released July 15, 2002, the paper explained in detail the economic forces that necessarily make open source software cheaper than commercial proprietary software, especially in the long run.

Finally, the group made available "Linux vs. Windows: Total Cost of Ownership Comparison" released by Cybersource Pty. Ltd. in April 2002. The study compared the purchase and total operational costs of running a theoretical enterprise with 250 computer-using staff on Linux/Open Source and Windows computer system platforms. Cybersource found that total savings over three years by using Linux, including hardware and staff costs, ranged from 25% to 34%, depending on whether new hardware was purchased or old hardware was re-used.

The studies revealed by Open Minds are available at the following:

* Total Cost of Ownership for Linux in the Enterprise

* Why Free Software's Long-term TCO is Lower

* Linux vs. Windows: Total Cost of Ownership Comparison

Open Minds Philippines is an advocacy group which was launched last September 10, 2002. It consists of the companies, individuals, and other organization who are the country's leading proponents of free and open source software.