Germans seek savings through Linux

Tough economic times in Germany have made Linux and other open source software products appear tantalizing to local businesses. Yet many remain hesitant to dump their Microsoft Corp. software completely, if for no other reasons than it performs relatively well, and nearly everyone in corporate Germany uses it.

That was the general impression from speakers delivering presentations Tuesday at the LinuxWorld conference in Frankfurt.

“Making more efficient use of capital resources, particularly in the IT area, is a top priority of German businesses currently exposed to a very harsh economic climate,” said Wafa Moussavi-Amin, analyst and regional business manager of IDC in Germany. “Price is the key differentiator. New software features and functions have become secondary.”

But Moussavi-Amin warned users that while Linux software is basically free to acquire, it can be costly to deploy if a company doesn’t have sufficient Linux competence. “Businesses can see costs pile up quickly for support, maintenance and, in particular, training if they lack in-house knowledge,” he said. “Each enterprise should carefully study whether the low fee to acquire the software will offset these other costs.”

Cost is one of the main reasons why Wilken Rechenzentrum GmbH, a mid-size IT service provider, is converting nearly 80 per cent of its operations to Linux, according to Roman Hoffmann, the company’s managing director. Other reasons for the move include the operating system’s high stability and flexibility, its reduced risk to virus attacks, support from the “large and helpful” open source community and a particular desire to develop software products not based on Microsoft’s Windows operating systems, he said.

Wilken Rechenzentrum was also encouraged by the decision of several large German cities, including Munich and Schw

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