Several Factors Can Influence System Decisions

There are plenty of factors in the Linux vs. Windows debate.

There are plenty of factors in the Linux vs. Windows debate.

Both have advantages, according to Murray Roth, vice president of research and development for Landmark Graphics.

  • Linux's biggest advantage: It's the same technology that's been used on Unix and can actually work in a hybrid environment, making the transition from Unix to Linux smoother.
  • The biggest advantage of Windows is its familiarity.

"People have been using Windows on its business desktop for years, so the workflows are the same," Roth said. "Both these systems offer the capability to bring together the business and technical aspects of a company."

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There are plenty of factors in the Linux vs. Windows debate.

Both have advantages, according to Murray Roth, vice president of research and development for Landmark Graphics.

  • Linux's biggest advantage: It's the same technology that's been used on Unix and can actually work in a hybrid environment, making the transition from Unix to Linux smoother.
  • The biggest advantage of Windows is its familiarity.

"People have been using Windows on its business desktop for years, so the workflows are the same," Roth said. "Both these systems offer the capability to bring together the business and technical aspects of a company."

Of course, despite the increasing advantages of PC technology, there are corporate barriers — and among the most important is the cost associated with this type of massive shift to a new system. Most companies are still heavily focused on Unix technology because the firms have a huge investment in those systems, according to Jim Sledz, director of exploration information management strategy with Conoco.

"With the investment in Unix we have to look at this closely," he said. "When the end users start touting moving to a PC-based system you have to challenge them. What are you getting that you can't do on Unix today to justify these costs? Right now there's not that much. PC systems are faster, but I can get a faster Unix machine for a lot less than what I have to invest in supporting a whole new PC system."

Also, the issue of limited memory on PC systems is critical for oil companies.

"Data volumes are constantly increasing, and everybody wants to see all that data on their workstation screen at the same time," he said. "To get these bigger volumes and bigger cubes you have to use Unix.

Bottom line for him: "There's going to have to be that leap in memory capability for PC systems before it can make any real inroads."

Often it's replacement cycles that drive oil companies' needs, he added.

"If I just bought a new system, then I'm not going to be interested in changing," he said. "But if my company is at the point of changing out the corporate system, then I'm going to be interested in any new systems that can improve my capabilities.

"These are business-based decisions within large oil companies. You can't suddenly just decide to spend $5 million to convert to a PC-based system," he continued. "I have to put a business case forward and compare that with other issues within the company, so I better have a compelling argument.

"You have to take a hard look at what you're getting for that investment, and what is the rate of return."

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