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Linux, OpenBSD, Windows Server Comparison: Evaluating Reliability Depends on Experience

Until a company has multiple Windows servers, they are not likely to see the extent of ongoing costs in supporting these computers, and even when they do, they are likely to accept the situation as they may have little choice. Though I've previously described some of the applications that draw companies to Windows server as niche applications, if they are the ones needed to run your business, and they are only available on Windows servers, you will buy Windows servers. Even if there is a UNIX alternative, for any company that already has or is considering Windows servers, and does not have the specific UNIX variant an application may be available in, it can be very hard to understand why it makes sense to get the application on a platform with which staff who will maintain it, have little or no familiarity.

Windows instability is likely to be accepted, in part because the other systems that the client has worked with, such as Novell and older proprietary systems, may have been no more stable and possibly much less stable, than the newer Windows servers. (Novell systems in different environments have exhibited highly variable reliability records.) Pre Windows NT desktop systems are even less stable; on some systems daily crashes are accepted The idea that some operating systems can routinely run for a year or more without reboot or failure, even on cheap PC hardware, simply isn't known to be an option. The weeks or months that an NT server may stay up, may actually seem very good to many IT staff.

Until you've had the misfortune to actually experience a Windows product install or upgrade go sour, it can be difficult to accept from press accounts and anecdotal evidence, just how frustrating and costly these situations can become. When a production server is out of action for days due to a minor hardware failure, despite the availability of good backups and available substitute hardware, there is simply no excuse but that can be the unfortunate truth with Windows systems.

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