Should You Use Linux or Windows Cloud Hosting? (Part 2 of 2)

Adnan Raja
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<<< Go to Part 1

  • 4 – Datacenter Cost of Ownership
  • 5 – Enterprise-Grade Data Protection
  • 6 – Datacenter Equipment Requirements
  • 7 – Support from the Developers
  • 8 – Enterprise Authentication
  • Developer-Friendly Cloud VPS

4 – Datacenter Cost of Ownership

Van Vugt says that Linux is free; the operating system itself is free. Nonetheless, you have to pay for the resources to run any program, of course. Plus, you typically will have to buy a high-end copy of Linux for the datacenter since free versions won’t necessarily meet your needs. That’s because free versions don’t have guarantees, essentially. In that sense, it should be understood that both Linux and Windows both come at a cost to business.

Typically, a business wants high reliability in their IT, high reliability that is also affordable. While the Linux OS won’t itself cost you anything, you’ll probably want a support package (or to go through a cloud hosting company). If you are deploying a server within your own datacenter, it often makes sense to get one from a firm that offers enterprise packages with support.

Linux is more affordable than Windows. That’s just a straight fact, because the Linux OS is free. Windows, on the other hand, charges a license for each user. It’s simply a different model.

Posey says that Windows has been known as incredibly costly since you have to pay for the operating system and then get client access licenses for each user. “Although Windows will likely always be more expensive to license than Linux,” he says, “Microsoft is making changes to the licensing requirements for some products to appeal to organizations in which users deploy multiple devices.”

5 – Enterprise-Grade Data Protection

Security is an interesting topic because of the two different approaches. Van Vugt mentions that any coder can see how Linux functions, with no need to hack anything; that’s the nature of open-source. The argument against Linux is that people have access and that makes it vulnerable. The pro-Linux perspective is that the wide access means many different and independent people are able to see and modify the OS back-end. It means bugs can be quickly fixed, even by the company itself. The proprietary scenario of Windows doesn’t allow you to correct bugs as they’re found; only Microsoft itself can make the change.

Keep in mind, open-source means the code is freely available; but security is built into the Linux kernel. You can even get security enhancements to Linux, allowing you to do things like block all system calls.

Posey notes that Microsoft sends out security patches for Windows as problems are revealed. The company has thorough paperwork available on using the OS’s security mechanisms yourself; plus, they provide information on how to design architecture that best protects your own network.

6 – Datacenter Equipment Requirements

Van Vugt points out that your equipment needs for Linux are not as high as they are for Windows. You can support a server with as little as 256 MB of RAM and a disk that only has a couple of gigabytes. Obviously those aren’t the limits that are typically used in an enterprise’s infrastructure.

When you are talking about a massive database, you generally won’t have to pay as much for Linux as for Windows. You can also customize and optimize the kernel as needed so it is purpose-fit.

Posey notes that the equipment that’s needed for the most recent version of Windows Server can run on systems that offer as low as 512 MB and 64-bit 1.4 GHz CPU. It’s not quite as lightweight, basically.

7 – Support from the Developers

“Companies don’t operate servers because they want to run a server,” says van Vugt. “Companies rely on servers because they want the applications that support the business.”

In other words, businesses usually want support services to pick up some slack; they don’t want to be experts on fixing and avoiding OS issues. Windows has traditionally had better organized support, but the Linux support industry has grown substantially in recent years. Although there has been a massive shift to the cloud, many firms still have some large legacy apps in-house, running on either Windows or Linux.

Posey points out that Microsoft is compatible and supported by all the biggest IT manufacturers. However, that support is only part of the selling argument for Windows Server, he says; in order for an OS to be valuable, the IT department must have access to drivers for any supplementary devices. Almost all companies that make servers and other datacenter equipment code Windows drivers to support them.

8 – Enterprise Authentication

Van Vugt points out that Windows Server is widely used by enterprises for user authentication. Active Directory is included within most Windows operating systems as a set of processes and services. AD “is a full authentication and authorization platform that integrates applications, users, computers and other resources,” he says. “Linux alternatives to Active Directory don’t have the same support of devices and applications.”

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