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Linux Cost Savings Add Up

Right Up Front: The License Savings

  • October 6, 2003
  • By Allen Bernard

When Jeff Whitmore, IT manager at Ernie Ball Guitar Strings, got the order to change over the company's systems from Windows to Linux, he was ecstatic. Not only would Linux be easier to run, he was about save $80,000 just on new license fees.

"Going to the Linux was just a natural," he said. "I mean that happened so easily and you're not paying for your Citrix license or anything else, or a Windows license."

Of course, Whitmore's CEO, Sterling Ball, made the decision because of a lawsuit brought against the company by the Business Software Alliance in 2000, and not in response to Linux's potential to save the company thousands. Still, the savings have begun to mount.

Prior to the changeover, Whitmore was spending $40,000 to $50,000 a year just on software licenses. Two years since the switch and Whitmore is close to $100,000 in the black even though he needed to invest $80,000 the first year in new equipment and software.

Once that was done, however, his capital investment basically ended. Not only is Whitmore's operation running on fewer, less expensive servers, he was able to save money by not purchasing new PCs. Instead, he put a Linux kernel on each unit (even the ultra-old ones got Linux expansion cards to replace outdated hard drives) and pushed out an open source productivity suite, OpenOffice, from a single sever to all the desktops.

This not only saves money on hardware, Whitmore can fix problems remotely from his desktop, saving anxiety, frustration and a lot time running around reloading hard drives.

What does he do with all his extra time? "Explore new technology," he said.

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