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Putting TCO Studies In Their Place

Analyzing the Analyst

December 5, 2002

Microsoft's release of an IDC study that indicated that in certain IT situations, Windows 2000 was less expensive than Linux stirred up a lot of controversy this week among the Linux community. Attendees of the Enterprise Linux Forum in Boston heard about the study as a topic of discussion in several of the presentations, little realizing that one of the principal authors of the study, IDC Vice President of System Software Research Dan Kusnetzky, was among them at the Forum, too.

Kusnetzky, who spoke at the conference Wednesday, was not surprised that Microsoft released the results, since the study had a positive outcome for the software giant. Kusnetzky joked that most of the work that he and his fellow IDC analysts do is like an iceberg--usually the public does not see 95% of the reports commissioned by IDC's clients. Once in a while, when the numbers are favorable, the client will exercise their right to publish the data.

But while Microsoft may have reason to celebrate now, Kusnetzky was quick to point out that when examined under a broader context, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) results are no more than just another data point in the race between Microsoft and Linux.

Upon our first chance meeting at the Forum, I joked with him and replied that he was the one that the Linux community so "loved." He chuckled and replied that after the release of Monday's report (which I had not yet seen due to traveling to Boston), that faux-status was sure to be elevated. Later, after I saw the news on the report and saw the community reaction on Linux Today, I could see what he meant.

But regardless of what Linux business leaders and community members may think of the report, Kusnetzky is a man who firmly stands by his company's data and their conclusions--and actually looks forward to reading some of the community responses, and engaging some of the more thoughtful commentators. Kusnetzky, it seems, is a man that is always willing to learn something new.