The debate on the merits of open source, Unix and Microsoft rages as fiercely as ever among organisations looking to streamline their systems and platforms
Simplifying infrastructure via server consolidation is still high on the IT directors' list of priorities this year - whether on Linux, Unix or Windows servers, substantial savings can be achieved.
Bola Rotibi, senior software development at analyst Ovum, said, "Whenever you do some consolidation you are going to make savings. Microsoft has an integrated environment, but anyone doing a review of their internal structure will find out where they are wasting resources."
With IBM and Novell supporting enterprise Linux, and open source support firms like SourceLabs starting up, open source will become a safe and low-cost option for more companies, she said.
Gartner vice-president Andy Butler said that open source operating systems, such as enterprise Linux, offer users a strong alternative to Microsoft Windows, and will soon be on a par with it in terms of scalability and security.
Consolidation on open source products has attracted organisations as diverse as European financial services giant MLP Group and the UK's De Montfort University.
Other users continue to cite cost savings through server and software consolidation and better standardisation as the main reason for staying with Microsoft technologies.
Last year, Richard Steel, head of IT at Newham Borough Council in London, published figures to back up his decision to choose Microsoft over open source. Newham carried out an independent, though controversial, study which found that staying with Microsoft, was cheaper than moving to open source systems.
Marine safety organisation Lloyd's Register, and the Isle of Man Government (IoMG) both said that the main reasons they chose a Microsoft route over Linux or Unix were to consolidate disparate IT infrastructures, cut IT operating spend and have a relationship with a single software supplier.
Microsoft also appears to be focusing on making Windows work in heterogeneous IT environments rather than trying to encourage users to adopt a Windows everywhere policy. Nick McGrath, head of platform strategy at Microsoft, said, "We know that if we do not continue to have an open platform that allows for integration, people will no longer look at it."
This was first published in July 2005