What are the benefits of a migration from Linux servers to Windows servers? What are the drivers behind such a migration?
Linux and Windows Server are very different operating systems, and it's rare that a business would choose to replace a successful open source platform like Linux with a complex operating system like Windows Server. But there are numerous situations or business needs that might justify the change. Let's consider four of the most common factors that drive an OS migration from Linux to Windows Server.
There may be incompatibilities or performance problems with Linux applications. The Linux business applications supporting your business may not be compatible with data (or exchange data properly) between applications that might rely on differing file formats or content. Linux is an open source platform, but open source applications can vary radically in their community's development goals and talent levels. Unless you have in-house Linux development talent, you'll need to depend on the Linux ecosystem and developer choices that might not fully reflect your particular needs. There is also no promise that the applications are cleanly developed or optimized for performance. This leads to excessive computing resources provisioned to the workload that a business could allocate to other tasks.
The support costs for Linux may be unreasonably high. Although no single organization definitively "owns" Linux or charges for it, some organizations like Red Hat provide paid services that can be a real life-saver for busy enterprise IT staff. However, support costs can become substantial over time, and the costs may be better allocated to licensing and supporting more comprehensive operating systems like Windows Server.
There may be a lack of Linux expertise. Successful Linux deployments require IT professionals with a modicum of Linux knowledge as well as software development and compiling skills that may simply be too expensive to find in IT professionals. A lack of Linux expertise makes Linux servers and applications much harder to support and troubleshoot, and this increases the difficulty of tasks that might otherwise be relatively straightforward to correct.
Finally, there may be a need to support Windows Server or Windows management. Chances are slim that a business relies 100% on Linux systems and applications. In many cases, some Windows Servers are needed to support Windows applications. This demands heterogeneous operating system support, which makes life far more difficult for IT professionals. When critical applications use Windows Server, it might make more sense to simply put everything on Windows Server instead. Similarly, there may be a need to standardize on Windows-based systems tools like System Center to see and control the entire environment through a single platform, or on tools like Hyper-V for a single ubiquitous hypervisor. Management or virtualization might put a migration from Linux to Windows Server on the fast track.
This was first published in October 2013