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Winning the Linux Wars

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Microsoft

Competing with Linux once filled Microsoft partners with dread, but now many are taking on the open source operating system with growing self-confidence -- and success. Here are the tactics for winning the fight.

It was the kind of scenario that used to strike fear into Microsoft partners' hearts, and Tim Marshall remembers it well. A midsize business was evaluating collaboration solutions, recalls Marshall, vice president of technology at Neudesic LLC, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.

"Microsoft came in and pitched Exchange and SharePoint and so forth to the customer and said the licensing was going to be $500,000, give or take," he says. Then another vendor came along and proposed a Linux-based solution with licensing price tag that was hard to beat: zero. That's when Microsoft called in Neudesic.

"Fortunately, I had an opportunity to meet with the chairman of the board," Marshall recalls. He urged that executive to focus on the overall cost of implementing and supporting the solution, rather than just on the underlying software's sticker price. From that perspective, Marshall argued, going with Microsoft would require an $800,000 outlay all told, "but in order to rebuild all of the things that SharePoint provides, it was going to be $1.1 million" if the customer chose Linux. "So there was a $300,000 difference, despite the fact that Linux is free," Marshall observes. Neudesic won the deal.

Such stories help explain why Microsoft partners who once dreaded battling Linux are now taking on the open source operating system with growing confidence. By aggressively challenging Linux's perceived strengths and highlighting Microsoft's overlooked advantages, partners are finding they cannot only compete with Linux, but beat it decisively.

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