Every risk management/business continuity practitioner needs to keep an eye on the bottom line.
If the practitioner is self-employed, that's obvious. If the practitioner works for someone else, helping the company hold the line on expenses will put the practitioner in good sted and may – may – justify a small bonus.
I just bought a new notebook (nee' laptop) computer. My old Compaq still works, but technology leaps and some other goodies, plus a low price convinced me to buy the new box.
The new notebook came with Microsoft Vista pre-installed (and no recovery CD if the drive fails).
I am still struggling to accommodate MS Office 2007's unnecessary User Interface (UI) changes so the jump from XP to Vista and the unnecessary UI changes frosted the cake.
On top of that, Vista is, at best (and even the phrase “at best” seems out of place) an interim operating system between XP and Windows 7, touted as the cure for all of Vista's failures.
Windows 7 is expected to cost about $200 to replace Vista Home. In the interim, knowing Windows 7 is close at hand, many developers are ignoring Vista and working on W7 versions of their applications.
Office 2007 Pro is only $100 – now. (Microsoft offers “Home and Student” for $100; Pro lists for $500; makes me wonder what the retailer's “Pro” really includes.)
Anyway, and back to the bottom line point, besides the COST of new a OS and new applications, there is the cost – and it very much IS a “cost” - of the learning curve for each new thing (OS, application).
What are the options?
Well, there is the MacIntosh (or is it Macintosh?). Problem is, while the Mac may have a consistent UI (I'm not a Mac user so I can't say), the platform is considerably more expensive than one that supports Microsoft Windows.
Moreover, for those that must use Windows applications modified for Macs., there usually is a delay in getting the apps – never inexpensive – to the Mac platform.
The answer for me was Linux.
I am not a computer guru. I've written *.bat files, but that's about my limit. I once tried to learn C++; when I wrote the traditional “hello” code I was presented with a screen that displayed “Beat it!” Compiling files is not my “thing.”
I used – very much past tense – to know my way around DOS command line code, much of it borrowed from UNIX.
But UNIX and now Linux, has come a long way even from when I used HP-UX (and it's desktop UI),
My Linux flavor is Ubuntu.
It's free. Even the mailing cost to send the CD is covered. (It also can be downloaded from the WWW.)
The distribution (“distro” to those in the know) includes OpenOffice that essentially is MS Office 95. It DOES read Office 2007 files and it does create Office 2007 readable files; I've tested that much. (This is created in OpenOffice writer.)
If you want to get closer to the current MS Office formats, Sun's Star Office might provide that for a fee. There also is Applixware, which I've used. There is a short list of application suites and related links at http://www.topology.org/soft/office.html.
Ubuntu comes complete with almost everything a user will find on a Windows OS + MS Office combination. Firefox instead of Internet Explorer (anyone who writes Web code for a single browser, even in the “old days” is foolish), Evolution instead of Outlook, F-Shot and GIMP for photo capture and manipulation; OpenOffice drawing in place of Visio. Of course there is a Notepad-type text editor and Terminal that equates to Windows' Run.
Admittedly, Ubuntu OS utilities (e.g., Evolution) and OpenOffice applications lack some of the bells and whistles of Windows and MS Office, but they meet my needs.
There are some applications under Windows and Mac that are lacking under Linux. Most critically for me is a decent page composition application similar to FrameMaker or Ventura. Still, most Mac and Windows applications are covered nicely in Linux.
Is there a learning curve? Yes, a fairly low one (writes this scrivener who started using Word with DOS V.1.0). Will there be a learning curve for the IT folks who have to install and support Ubuntu? Probably also a very flat curve since, when I asked around, many of my IT SMEs already were running Ubuntu or another Linux OS on their own systems.
Will there need to be a major hardware investment? Not for platforms (computers) and, from what I have seen, not for peripherals, either.
Linux offers all the networking and network security available in the Windows environment.
For my money – that I prefer to keep in my pocket – Linux is a much better option (than Windows or Mac) for what I do (excepting creation of desktop publishing/long, complex documents).
John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management practitioner
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Florida