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Is Linux Ready for Small Business? - page 4

Overcoming the "Geekware" Label

  • December 21, 2006
  • By Drew Robb

Despite the positive pronouncements above, some of the analysts remain wary about recommending Linux to any and all small businesses. "Linux should be considered by small businesses for hosted or managed services, but not for self-management," says Antonopoulos. "It requires skills, just like Windows, but the skills may not be as widely available."

Nickolett, on the other hand, feels that some smaller outfits could manage Linux with minimal outside help. But he stops short of telling small Windows shops to move to the open source platform.

"For a very small business where everything else was Windows, I would recommend staying with Windows," says Nickolett. "Having a single platform makes things easier to manage.

Novell's Steinman suggests that certain workloads work best on Novell and others are best on Linux. The company has even entered into a partnership with Microsoft to improve interoperability between Linux and Windows. The idea is that businesses can run both platforms side-by-side rather than having to make an either-or choice.

"It's okay to install Windows for certain workloads and install Linux for others," says Steinman. Haff, however, remains unconvinced that Microsoft's domination of the SMB is under threat--at least in the short term.

"For the most part, Microsoft owns small business," he says. "It's a familiar environment, for all its warts, and small businesses that lack IT skills will tend to choose Windows."

What about all the improvements that have been made? While he agrees that progress has been made, he doesn't see that this will move the masses to Linux. "Linux installs have gotten easier and device support more comprehensive," says Haff. "But it's still too unfamiliar for most small businesses to feel comfortable using."

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology and engineering. Originally from Scotland, he graduated with a degree in geology from Glasgow's Strathclyde University. In recent years he has authored hundreds of articles as well as the book, Server Disk Management by CRC Press.

This article originally appeared on Small Business Computing, a JupiterWeb site.

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