Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 versus UNIX

Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 versus UNIXbyJohn KirchNetworking Consultant and Microsoft Certified Professional (Windows NT)Last update: 7 August 1999
Executive SummaryIT managers worldwide are being confronted with the question, should we go with Microsoft Windows NT Server or one of the UNIX operating systems? As you may already know, UNIX is not a single operating system; it refers to a family of operating systems which includes AIX, BSDI, Digital UNIX, FreeBSD, HP-UX, IRIX, Linux, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Pyramid, SCO, Solaris, SunOS, just to name the more prominent ones. Windows NT Server is increasing in popularity, but is it increasing the productivity of your MIS operations? Most important of all, though, for you as a manager is, are you increasing the profits of your company when you choose a Microsoft solution?The bottom line is, which is cheaper? Hardware costs, software licenses, technical support agreements, prices of upgrades/service packs, costs of hardware upgrades, profits lost for every hour of downtime, personnel costs for recovering/recreating data lost due to product defects in the operating system and/or hardware platform required by your choice of operating systems, and personnel costs for systems administrators, these are only some of the factors that contribute to the overall budget resulting from your decision. It is not a trivial consideration.Although money is the bottom line for you as a manager, given the complex set of factors I’ve just presented, a technically superior combination of server hardware and operating systems could prove to be less expensive in the long run. UNIX is a mature, technically superior group of operating systems with a proven track record for performance, reliability, and security in a server environment. The almost thirty years of continual development, performed often by volunteers who believe in what they’re doing, has produced a group of operating systems–and extremely powerful multiprocessor server hardware tailor-made to its needs, whose performance is still unparalleled by Intel hardware–that not only meets the demands of today’s computing needs, but in many cases exceeds them.Why Windows NT Server 4.0 continues to exist in the enterprise would be a topic appropriate for an investigative report in the field of psychology or marketing, not an article on information technology. Technically, Windows NT Server 4.0 is no match for any UNIX operating system, not even the non-commercial BSDs or Linux. A manager is not expected to have the technical expertise of a systems administrator with 15 years of industry experience. There is no shame in not having the facts, only in being ignorant of such facts, which will in the end cost your employer, and eventually all consumers, money. The aim of this article is to give you the resources which will enable you to make thoughtful and informed decisions regarding your organization’s IT planning and operations.The following article relies on my experience in this industry, which started back in 1979 with Chevron Geosciences Company, and on roughly 150 links to other technical articles, white papers, and executive summaries. At this point it should be noted that I am not promoting the product of any one company, nor would my employer benefit should you choose UNIX. My goal is to ease the burden of systems administrators, promote more efficient and economical computing worldwide, and encourage a more fair and diverse community of software vendors.