% fortune -ae paul murphy

The $100 server nightmare

If present trends continue, sometime in 2009 senior IT managers will routinely be meeting in organizations around the world to seriously discuss capital budgeting for servers selling at less than $100 per ghost, or OS instance, run on them - including storage but before Microsoft licensing.

Microsoft OS licensing costs will amount to more than 90% of the initial capital cost but be treated as givens - not in any way up for discussion.

We're already seeing this - fifteen hundred plus dollar a day consultants advising on five thousand dollar infrastructure decisions. Why? because that process made sense when a 4MB main storage upgrade cost the equivalent of two man years at the project management level.

Now server costs are flooring out in the low thousands for hardware and there've been so many emergency budget requisitions for Wintel upgrades that the licensing budgets in most Fortune 1000 firms are treated about as seriously as a Hummer sales pitch based on its fuel economy.

Want to see for yourself how serious this is? Get yourself invited to a meeting with some senior DP managers and wait for just the right opportunity to ask why hardware capacity planning and utilization matter more than Wintel license management given that hardware is now much cheaper than licensing. Watch the expressions around you freeze - they'll all become unwilling to meet your eyes, both embarrassed for you and glad you've opted out of their way up.

And, meanwhile, back at IT central command, exactly nobody is listening to users - meaning that this isn't just a nightmare, it's the real world of big time corporate IT.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.