0

Earlier this evening, I had a conversation with a friend and colleague in the IT business. He runs his own independent computer consulting firm and we were trading war stories about customers, hardware vendors and work sharing. Work sharing, also known as "farming out" work that you can't do yourself due to your schedule, volume or lack of expertise. He shocked me when he made the statement that, "Not that many companies use Unix anymore." Huh? I must have looked as if someone wanted to purchase my firstborn when he said that because he emphatically repeated the statement.

I took a large gulp of my iced tea and choked out the words, "Are you kidding me, what about bigger companies?"

"Nope," he replied, "even hospitals use all Windows on Dell systems."

My mouth was still agape at this and I had an odd clanging sound going off in my head.

I cleared my throat and said, "Oh sure, the workstations but they use Unix for their servers, right?"

Again, the reply was, "Nope, they use Windows on those too."

And then he named two local hospitals as examples.

OK. I like this guy. I think that he's probably a very good computer tech and I know that he treats people fairly but I'm afraid that he's terribly misinformed.

One of the hospitals that he mentioned, I know for sure uses Unix to do some of their dirty work such as controlling their magnetically locked doors and validating their security cards.

He further informed me that, "Hardly anyone uses Unix--nearly everyone is an all Windows shop."

I told him that he should be glad then because he'll never lack for work and that Microsoft's products kept me in that same business for over eight years.

He departed rather abruptly, claiming that he had to go "reboot the phone system."

OK, so I'm a jerk, right? Or, I came off as a jerk to him, I think.

But, is it me?

Seriously, in the huge enterprises that I've worked in for the past 16 years or so, Unix plays a major role often greatly outnumbering Windows server by at least two to one. When people state odd things like, "hardly anyone uses Unix anymore," it makes me uncomfortable. I don't know how to respond. Should I assume the role of an equally uninformed zombie or attempt to correct someone's obviously erroneous beliefs?

The puzzling part is that he knows what I do for a living, including my writing gigs. It makes me wonder if he's really that uninformed or just picking a fight.

What do you think, could his opinions about Unix hold any truth or is he misinformed? Am I misinformed?

9
Contributors
8
Replies
11
Views
7 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by BestJewSinceJC
0

I don't have omniscient knowledge of all organizations, and maybe I'm just being cynical, but I'll tell you this: If someone said their organization was 100% Windows, it wouldn't shock me. If someone said even their server room was 100% Unix, Linux, or anything else non-Windows, I would be pretty surprised.

Microsoft has done two things well:
- Indoctrinating a whole generation of IT workers with the "windows way" to the exclusion of all else. Take a look at the curriculum of your local tech certification centers, community colleges, and vocational tech schools. Look carefully at the class descriptions. You're going to see a lot of Microsoft, and anything else is pushed off in a corner as an elective. Where are the Unix certifications? Where are the C, Python, Perl, Lisp, Csh, etc. classes? In short, where can I get a Unix education without going to an ivy league CS college?

- Second, they have made it ever so subtly painful not to be 100% Microsoft. Even when Microsoft stuff talks to Unixy stuff, it treats it as a second-class citizen and you are guaranteed some kind of headache making the whole thing get up and start crawling along. When the time comes to replace the aging backoffice systems, someone will eventually ask "Wouldn't it be simpler if we just bought SQL Server?", "Wouldn't it integrate better if we just used Exchange?", "Why don't we just use Sharepoint for this?". And sadly, everyone comes to the recognition that it is the path of least resistance.

I've seen Windows encroach on my organization's server room slowly over the years, not because anyone asked for it, not because anyone thought it was better tech; but just because we had no other choice for staying full compatible.

0

I've been in IT for over 20 years, 12 of them as a consultant. Only 1 company I have worked for have used Windows in any mission critical fashion other than workstations.

Your friend is incredibly mis-informed.

0

He sounds like a lowbie IT gopher that does work station support probably for clerical types. I doubt if he has ever seen a server.

0

Given that we're here reading this, we're likely a bit biased in the first place. That said, I've yet (in 15 years of IT Management,) to find a single company out there that didn't have both windows and some unix variant running. There is a need for cheap and easy user administration in mid-large sized companies and windows gets that done.

Next time you talk to your buddy just ask them if they run VMWare ESX anywhere in the company, or have to log into any web interfaces to get their job done. Sometimes the Windows guys don't REALLY understand what they're working on or what it represents, because more often than not, they don't have to reboot it, therefore it does not matter.

0

Red Hat is based on our Centennial Campus and is growing and expanding. I wonder if they are really doing this on zero revenue?

1

Unfortunately it is true that many (if not most) hospitals are almost entirely Windows shops, even the systems that monitor critical medical devices. A number of them were effectively shut down recently when they were hit with a particularly nasty virus - only emergency operations in life-threatening situations were allowed to go forward. This type of computer monoculture is incredibly dangerous. To use Windows for any safety-critical system is, in my professional opinion, a matter of malpractice. FWIW, I am a 20+ year member of the IEEE and director of a major IEEE consultant's network.

0

Unix is less used in business these days, easy. The United States Postal Service recently (or was it a year or two ago?) switched from Unix to GNU/Linux, and as you should know "GNU's Not Unix". While the biggest businesses use GNU/Linux -- i.e. Google, Yahoo!, NASA, IBM, etc. -- not all businesses have ditched Unix, just as some businesses use Windows as well, Unix is just less used, that's all.

0

Jake.. The OP was obviously talking about Linux included when he said Unix.

- Indoctrinating a whole generation of IT workers with the "windows way" to the exclusion of all else. Take a look at the curriculum of your local tech certification centers, community colleges, and vocational tech schools. Look carefully at the class descriptions. You're going to see a lot of Microsoft, and anything else is pushed off in a corner as an elective. Where are the Unix certifications? Where are the C, Python, Perl, Lisp, Csh, etc. classes? In short, where can I get a Unix education without going to an ivy league CS college?

Umm - at any University.. ever?

Have something to contribute to this discussion? Please be thoughtful, detailed and courteous, and be sure to adhere to our posting rules.