Microsoft small business sales VP Steve Guggenheimer took a swipe at Linux while pushing Small Business Server 2003 to partners at Microsoft's Australia and New Zealand partner conference at the Gold Coast on Tuesday.
Guggenheimer told delegates that Linux software did not address the needs of small businesses as well as Microsoft's products, partly because of the inherent lack of integration and functionality.
'I don't think there's any other company out there that can do this. People sometimes talk about Linux in the small business space, but you'll never get so many pieces together on one server with Linux. Obviously, to integrate so many pieces together on the same server will cost a lot of money and won't serve your business needs,' he said.
Customers could buy one package already integrated to perform a range of advanced functions but with Linux, for example, they would have to mix and match 'three, four or even five' applications to do the same job.
Further, a customer that bought a range of different applications -- following the 'best of breed' principle -- would then probably have to do a lot of work to ensure those applications worked together, Guggenheimer said.
David Allinson, a product solution marketing manager at Microsoft, said, later in the same presentation, that partner value from Small Business Server 2003 would be very high.
As a core product, it would be a comparatively easy sell to customers. Microsoft partners would be able to use it as an integral stepping stone towards selling more complex and advanced packages -- such as Microsoft CRM. 'The biggest thing I would argue against Linux is how do you set it up [and] how do you integrate your [business] model with it. If it comes in an easy package to use, like Small Business Server 2003, then it would be changed more easily,' Allinson said.
Guggenheimer said in an interview with CRN following this morning's keynote that he stood by his remarks about Linux.
Small business people tended to be business people rather than technical types, and the overall cost of adopting Linux was for them likely to stay high.
Linux might well do a good job in many ways and would be the brand of choice for some small businesses in certain situations -- but often needed more technical support than comparable Microsoft packages, he said.
'So we think that the small business community is not really the starting point for that discussion [on whether Linux is cheaper],' Guggenheimer said. 'Linux might be in some very small businesses that are IT-savvy.'
He said he regularly spoke with 'a lot' of partners about what added value for them and believed the only way forward was to educate end-users with total costs against total benefits. Although some companies tended to base their software choice on up-front costs, partners needed to work harder to educate them on the full picture, he argued.