Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Linux In Small Business

Just a few years ago most small businesses were exclusively Microsoft "shops".  Microsoft desktops, servers and applications.  There were few exceptions.

In the last few years I have personally observed a pretty profound shift.  More and more Macbooks (or other Apple computers) are showing up in these once exclusive shops.  I believe the willingness of small business owners to move away from Microsoft and toward Apple is a direct result of their experience with other Apple products, namely the iPhone but the "why" part of this story is a post for another day.

This shift has created an opening for introducing Linux into the small business space, as well.  In a small shop of, say, 10 to 20 computer users where over half of them are Mac users it becomes less and less beneficial (read: cost/beneficial) for the business owner to invest in a Microsoft server product.  Especially when a small Linux server running DHCP and DNS daemons along with SAMBA and CUPS for file and print can provide many (if not all) of the services they receive from a comparable and way more expensive Microsoft server.

In addition to cost, Linux servers can be easily configured to automatically install critical security updates and actually get them very quickly.  Updating and upgrading a Linux server is quick, easy and, in my humble opinion, much more reliable than doing the same in the Microsoft Windows world.

I have recently deployed two Linux servers in just such a scenario.  The cost of entry to running an Ubuntu LTS Server OS on a small Dell Server is many times less than the equivalent hardware-software combination running Windows Server.  Using Webmin as a management front end even provides administrators inexperienced in Linux the ability to easily manage the essential functions.

Linux integrates well in these small shops with diverse sets of operating systems and the cost of entry is low - reliability is high.

Times are changing in the small business IT support world.  Linux and open source products are well positioned to be a part of that change.

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