Microsoft steps up efforts to nab Unix migrations

Hoping to throw some tacks in the road to slow Linux momentum, Microsoft Corp. during the next year will redouble its efforts to woo more corporate users migrating from Unix to the open source OS.

Despite achieving some success convincing Unix users to migrate to Windows platforms, Microsoft hopes to lure significantly more through a concerted effort to highlight the technical and cost benefits of doing so.

“What I found in talking to Unix users the past year, is they thought the gains in going to Linux were so great they weren’t even considering Windows. So now — and going through the next year — we will spend even more time trying to make them understand there is even greater value in moving from Unix to Windows,” said Martin Taylor, Microsoft’s chief Linux strategist.

Conversations in earnest with larger Unix-based corporate users about their migration plans began almost exactly a year ago as part of Microsoft “Get the Facts” campaign that attempted to lay out in a no-frills fashion the technical and costs benefits of choosing between Windows and Linux.

“Our big focus with that campaign is to remove the emotional and religious elements (of choosing between Linux and Windows). When I came into this job a year ago, there was a lot of hype going on, but users wanted a more pragmatic view on things like TCO and security. It is having some effect because now users are starting to do their own analysis,” Taylor said.

Although some analysts agree Microsoft has had limited success in convincing Unix users to switch to Windows, gaining significantly more wins over Linux in the migration battle will not be easy. It will be particularly difficult to coax Unix users who are mainly focused on consolidating different workloads onto a single Windows server.

“For some (Unix) users, Windows is indeed an option. But among those users doing a fair amount of consolidation of workloads on Unix servers as well as restructuring of their infra- structure, then Linux is a more likely choice if they decide to migrate at all,” said Al Gillen, research director of system software at IDC.

Backing up Taylor’s confidence, however, is a recent report by Meta Group, which conducted a study among 24 IT decision-makers whose organizations completed a migration of PeopleSoft and SAP ERP systems from Unix to Windows during the past 18 months. The study showed improvements of at least 50 percent in reliability, accessibility, and scalability, according to the report.

Attacking Linux from another direction, Taylor said Microsoft will focus its technical and marketing moves this coming year not so much at the Linux community as a whole, but more specifically at the top three or four companies — and against their respective and differing strategies.

“Going into this next year, it will be less about the cloud of Linux and more about The Red Hats, Novells, and IBMs — the individual companies that are moving things out there. In talking to CIOs who plan to deploy Linux in any major way, they are going to go with a commercialized version of Linux, not some download from smaller players,” Taylor said.

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