Choosing The Right OS

The battle to be the dominant operating
system-the marketing and technology wars that we fondly call the OS wars-has always looked
more than a bit like the Star Wars trilogy. Be it IBM in the mainframe era, or Digital at
mid ranges, or Microsoft now, there has always been an ‘evil empire’ accused of plotting
to take over the world. If there is an evil empire, then can the ‘rebel outposts’ be far
behind? They have also always existed in the form of a MacOS, a free BSD, or a Linux. And
both the imperialists and the rebels have always seemed to be a bit too fanatical about
their adherence and tactics!

Error! Not a valid filename.While the evil
empire of the day rakes in the moolah, the rebels await the return of the Jedi, the day
when the empire will be overthrown, and victory will finally be theirs. This script has
more or less held true so long. But is slowly undergoing change. No, I am not in any way
suggesting that Microsoft is unstoppable or that a newer or better operating system is
possible. All I am suggesting is that we are headed toward an era of peaceful coexistence
of operating systems, an era when the operating system you are running really does not
matter that much.

Your network need no longer be the monopoly
of any one operating system. Nor do you need to spend an enormous packet if you need to
run more than one operating system in trying to make them communicate with each other.
Open standards (like TCP/IP) have ensured that today’s operating systems can seamlessly
integrate with one another and be transparent to the user. For example, a user on your
network could call data from a database running on Unix, to an analytical tool running on
NT and print the results out on a printer set up on a NetWare server without being any
wiser about all this.

The biggest advantage of this is that you
are no longer limited about your choice of applications by the operating system you are
running. You can safely decide on the application that you need to run and then add the
operating system that it runs on to your network and have it coexist with other
applications and their operating systems.

For example, in my experience, NetWare has
been a more stable file, and print server and Linux a cheaper and more effective mail
server than NT ever was. And all of them can handle DOS, Windows Macintosh, OS/2 or Unix
clients with equal ease. So, there is no reason why I should not use NetWare for file and
print, Linux for mail, one of the commercial Unixes for my GIS and CAD applications, and
NT for my databases, all on the same network. There is no reason to convert the entire
network from say NetWare to Linux if I want to have email at every desktop, or change over
completely to NT just because I want to run SQL server. So, most big networks will run
multiple operating systems, each doing what it is best at.

Adding the new OS to the network is not
only easy, it also saves you from the unnecessary overheads, headaches, and most
importantly the down time and user retraining associated with a complete switch over. And
increasingly, that is the path being chosen by IT professionals.

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