As the world of marketing communications shifts more and more in to the digital arena, so the lines between I.T. Departments and Marketing Departments blur. Personally, in recent months, I have become exposed to, and asked to advise on clients I.T. policies and infrastructure more than ever. Much of this relates to social networking and mobile communications, but some relates to overall systems.
It’s an area where I am comfortable working and advising to a certain point. But I’m careful not to overstep my knowledge and have sought to collaborate with I.T. specialists when required.
One pattern I am noticing is that more companies are paying attention to total cost of ownership (TCO). With a car, that is a simple concept. Take a typical 4-year ownership period. How much does the vehicle depreciate on average each year? What is the annual insurance? Annual service and repair bill? Given it’s efficiency, how much will it cost to run. Add those together and you have it’s annual TCO.
With I.T., there are similar factors (initial hardware cost and depreciation, I.T. support costs, software licensing and upgrade costs, staff training and education costs, ease of use). These can add up to a hefty I.T. bill for many companies.
If you are looking to reduce the total cost of ownership of your organization’s I.T., and have not done so as yet, you may want to consider de-Microsofting it. It may not be right for everyone, but my belief is that for the majority of small – medium size businesses a de-Microsofting will reduce their I.T. TCO in the medium to long-term.
Now… many of you may think I’m about to launch in to an Apple love-in. And while I am a big fan of Apple, I’m also a big fan of the 3rd route that is available to you: open-source. With the right knowledge, you can de-Microsoft your business without a dollar, or an Apple coming in to play!
Oh. And while you’re de-Microsoft-ing, why not consider de-Adobe-ing? The price points of the recently released Adobe Creative Studio 5 sent shockwaves around the world. Perhaps they can be lived-without too?
To demonstrate this, let’s look at a small creative business that is setting up with 10 relatively standard PC workstations and a server.
After hardware cost, this is what the bill may look like:
Windows 7 Professional x 10 licenses = up to $3,500
Microsoft Office Professional (1 disk, plus 9 additional licenses = up to $4,900
Small Business Server with 10 CAL’s = up to $1,500
Microsoft Project for 5 Workstations = up to $3500
Adobe Creative Suite for 5 Workstations = up to $15,000
Total cost = $28,400.
Wow! That’s quite a sum!
So what’s the alternative? Shiny Macs?
Many would argue that Macs deliver the lowest TCO. But their initial cost to a start-up may be prohibitive. As mentioned… perhaps it’s time to pull off the blinkers and consider Linux-based Open Source technologies:
The most popular Open Source Operating System is Ubuntu Desktop. It’s a very attractive, intuitive and robust working environment. It even includes a music store that’s very reminiscent of iTunes!
Instead of Microsoft Office, consider OpenOffice, or Lotus Symphony. Both are cross compatible with Microsoft Office documents and feature alternatives to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. OpenOffice also includes an alternative to Access and a basic graphics tool.
For a server, let’s go back to Ubuntu. Ubuntu Server should be powerful enough for most small-medium size businesses. Having said that, many may not even need an in-house server and Google Apps should be considered as an alternative.
Instead of Microsoft Project, consider OpenProj – a well-featured open-source alternative.
Dang that Adobe Software is pricey. So have a look at these alternatives – there’s a free open source alternative to almost every element of Creative Suite.
And sure… there’s bound to be some other applications that you’ll want on your workstation. And you may not be able to find alternatives to them on Linux. But that’s a lot less likely to happen than you may think. Check out LinuxAlt and Alternative.to for all sorts of open source alternatives such as 3D applications, financial management software and DJing tools!
Now there’s one big open-ended factor that’s not being discussed yet – and that’s ease-of-use. Ease-of-use is why the iPhone, despite being outnumbered by Blackberries and Android devices accounts for way, way more data usage. Recent stats indicated that the average iPhone user, uses his/her device over 10 times as much as the average BB user.
To me, using Linux alternatives is a little like switching sides on the road.
Being originally from the UK, and having also lived in Australia and visited much of Europe and the US before settling in Canada, I’ve driven a lot of miles on the left and a lot of kilometers on the right. I find the switch a little odd at first, but quickly settle in. And then switching back feels a little odd. But neither way feels definitely better than the other. However some people just wont get it and may narrowly avoid a head-on before asking for help!
Yep. Switching to a Linux desktop or a Linux application is a little like jumping in what feels like a passenger-side-door and finding a steering wheel.
Except now ,when you go for a drive, the gas is completely free!