Having Options is Nice

Taken from the Slashdot article on Linux finding homes on the desktop: “The State of Illinois recently consolidated its IT systems onto Microsoft software — and has no interest in using Linux, says Paul Campbell, director of the state’s Central Management Services department. ‘We don’t have time for science projects in state government,’ he says.”

I’m all for organizations deciding to go one way or another. I’ve worked with a number of clients who had some Windows, some Solaris, some AIX, some OS/400, some z/OS, etc. The IT staff could barely keep up with everything, much less be experts in any of it. On the other hand, though, an organization should take advantage of the strengths of certain OSes. UNIXes are very good at some things (Internet services, for example), Windows is very good at other things (file and print sharing, for example). Linux is a very accessible and inexpensive way to bring UNIX into your data center, and a great way to keep your technological options open when designing a new service. Consolidation is great, but locking yourself into a single vendor never turns out well.

There were so many positive things Mr. Campbell could have said about this move. He could have talked about consolidation, support costs, virtualization opportunities. He could have left it at “we are not interested in Linux at this time.” Instead he chose to insult and deride, making it difficult for Illinois to use Linux in the future without looking like idiots for changing their minds. He’s obviously committed Illinois to Microsoft solutions. What happens when their solution isn’t the best?

The sad part about this is that he is a high-ranking official. It is unfortunate that the direction in Illinois is being set by people that don’t understand the future implications of their actions and words, and are not interested in keeping their future options open.

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