A survey recently released by IDC finds that large networks of Windows servers are cheaper to run and maintain than Linux servers, even taking into account the higher software licensing costs for Windows. The catch? That survey was commissioned by Microsoft. A Reuters article about the study covers mostly how this study indicates a shift in Microsoft’s marketing strategy toward Linux — moving away from criticizing open source toward focusing on Windows’ benefits.The existence and promotion of a survey like this one underscores one of the interesting and problematic aspects of the technology industry and the way it intersects with the media and financial community. Industry analysts like IDC, present their data in a dispassionate and with an objective voice, but are in fact being paid by the companies whose products they tout. The problem lies not with what these analysts purport to be, but how they and their findings are received by an unsophisticated audience.
Analysts like IDC are a helpful supplement to a company’s marketing and public relations departments. They allow a company to study a product’s market, competitors, and position and create a report that can be shared with the media, potential buyers, partners, and investors. The problem is that some of these reporters, investors, and customers do not realize that these studies are not unbiased, and are an extension of the company’s marketing efforts.
So read the study and its conclusions, and use it to draw your own conclusions, taken with a grain of salt.