As Microsoft's general manager of platform strategy, Taylor has to deal with anti-Microsoft sentiments while evangelizing his company's products. Despite the challenges, he maintains an unwavering conviction that his company can deliver better returns than those offered by open-source software.
According to Taylor, businesses that tried out Linux or other open-source tools are now realizing that they are putting in more investment into the technology than they had initially thought.
"The Linux phenomenon created this emotional hype or spike where, in some ways, people became less concerned about some of these practical issues around cost of ownership, reliability, security and so on," he said. "But I think now, two to three years into this, we're seeing these issues around cost and reliability coming up such that, we now know we need to go back to the basics on how we evaluate a platform and choose it."
In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Taylor explains why he calls the open-source architecture "brittle" and reveals what he thinks causes "a level of pain" for Microsoft.
Q: In the last six months, what have you been focused on in terms of development work?
Taylor: We continue to do the same things that we've been doing in the last couple of years. First and foremost, we are looking to understand some of the scenarios like why customers are considering Linux, and making sure we have the right offerings for the marketplace.
We continue to run our lab where we analyze and look at open-source software to understand and ensure we're still building the right things from a short-term or long-term basis.
Within any technology, industry analysts would say it takes three to five years after people deploy something before they begin to evaluate whether they should upgrade, or if they should look into (a change of) platform. Or at least this happens in most parts of the world. We're hitting that part of the window now--in the last six months--where we're seeing customers who have been using Linux or an open-source technology in the last three to four years and had gone into this thinking they're going to save money but they actually applied more people to the challenge than they initially thought.
They're also realizing they can't migrate and evolve (open-source technology) as much as they had thought. For example, U.S. company Flyi.com handles about 90 percent of travel reservations through their online portal, which they run on Linux and Apache.
The systems were running fine until the company had a huge spike in traffic, and there were all kinds of downtime issues. So they did the upgrades, added a few servers, some hardware, some memory and new technologies around the Web site to do more customer relationship database tracking. It was all very complex, and some of the seams of the Linux architecture were beginning to show.
In what way is Linux or an open-source infrastructure unsuitable?
Taylor: You can build it, design it, and it will work great. The trouble begins when you want to add things to it, add some services and things like that. Because of the brittle nature of the platform, when you do that, other things break. We see that in the labs all the time, and our customers see that as well. So that has a (total) cost of ownership impact on it.
There is this issue of putting more (into) the problem than a customer thought, and not being able to grow around your Linux installations. You can do things just great--I want to be very clear about that--but (when it comes to) the adding of modules...it becomes more and more difficult (to manage). You almost have to start from scratch in some ways. There's a cost associated here.
It is also more of a commercial discussion now. These trends are not necessarily new, but we are really seeing it being played out now. It's also not so much about the open-source community or the millions of developers around the world building Linux. It's about Red Hat, it's about Novell, it's about IBM...really looking for ways to monetize sets of things around Linux. In some ways, this is a good thing for customers because things are more black-and-white now, and it allows us to have a very balanced conversation with them around these key issues.
So why do you think the ideals of open source--giving back to the community, being able to see, use and change source codes--have appealed to so many people? Do you think
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