Thursday, October 07, 2004

Linux Analogies: Linux as A Property

I have been using "Linux is like a car" anology for years. I'll write about it some other time but essentially it is about the importance of knowing how to take care of your car instead of just driving it.

In my talks with business people who want to use Linux in their business, I found that equating Linux property helps brings about a better understanding. The anology goes that if you are building a business, you must have a place to do business. This place is the 'property'. So, if you are building applications to sell to your customers and you build them using Windows as your operating system, then Windows is your 'property' that you do your business in. If you choose to build that application using Linux, too, you would be like setting up another business in another property. The major difference between the Windows property and the Linux property is that one is a lot cheaper than the other to set up and run. You have better control on one property over the other, akin to buying one and renting / leasing another.

Each property bring with it their own requirements. Maintenance in relation to the OS is an example. You need to have one in your Windows property and another in you Linux property. Add in support, R&D, pre-sales tech and the costs of maintaining your business in both properties will add up to a lot quickly. Unless business in each property is sufficient to justify their own existence, most business would close one shop in favour of the other. How one business reaches that decisions in another matter. What would you look at? Would you look at the revenue each place of business generates? Or the actual profit? Today's business or tommorow's? Profits acheived yesterday or projected profits of tommorow?

How about upkeep of the property? You do need to refresh your place of business out of necessity or just for the heck of it. More space for the increased workforce, new wiring for a faster network or a fresh coat of paint to cover the aging process. Which place would you sink more money in, the place that you rent and eventually need to move out or the one that you bought. With Windows, MS expects you to move out of that property to another with costs. Or else, they will abandon you in it. Linux offers a chance to stay until you are ready to move, at your own pace but eventually your own peril.

Once these businessmen started thinking in those terms, the value of Linux and the value of moving their business and applications to Linux begins to show. You can stretch this even further by implying that one property is in a neighbourhood that is full of people who are trying to break in and your landlord is reluctant to put in the grills, better locks and reinforced doors. As master of your own property, you fully undestand that responsiblity is yours. And you don't feel too bad because it is an investment in your own property regardless of what neighbourhood your property is in. ( I like to think it is in a friendly community :) )

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