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recently i posted an opinion to one of my local user group lists in response to something that irks me as of lately.  granted a few years back this may have been a valid statement, but i don’t think it is anymore.

the comment was something along the lines of this (paraphrasing): why use asp.net when you can use php and get what you need for a fraction of the cost.

it caused me pause to consider the various scenarios, but i’ll settle for simplicity on the hosted scenario for comparison, because quite frankly, i’m calling b.s. on those type of comments lately (unless someone provides me with specifics).

generally speaking, that type of statement refers to the point that linux is free, php is free and mysql is free — the classic “lamp” stack (LAMP=linux, apache, mysql, and pick your ‘p’-php, python, perl, etc.).  now really, let’s examine this.

  • – free.  supported by community.  commercial distributions are available from vendors, namely Zend — and for ‘corporations’ that may be the route most go
  • Linux – free.  hmm…kinda.  is there a distribution that isn’t sold anymore?  not really.  can you download their distributions…sure, but again, ‘corporations’ aren’t (and if they are i’d argue, shouldn’t — can anyone say accountability) doing that, they are acquiring the licensing and support agreements — okay, so it may be free, but the support isn’t — so it’s just another way of pricing
  • dev tools – some free, good ones aren’t.  from what i hear people use *mostly* dreamweaver and zend studio for some great php development…neither of which are free.
  • – free.  again, kinda.  the community edition is.  they offer more reliable builds in the pro/cluster editions, which aren’t free.  from their site the community edition is:

MySQL 5.0 Community Edition is for open source developers and technology enthusiasts who want to get started with MySQL. It is released early, released often, and includes the latest features under development.

let’s contrast that with asp.net environment:

  • Windows – not free.  I must start here, because generally this is the basis of any non-microsoft statements.  No, Windows is not free.  Microsoft is in the business of selling software, this is one of them.  *BUT* Windows doesn’t have to be expensive…see later comments.
  • ASP.NET – free.  A part of Windows server.  So once you have the license for windows, you have an organizational (and community) supported framework.
  • – free.  licensed? yes, but still no cost.  Limitations? yes, but few for *most* purposes (note: if you are using shared hosting, then you aren’t getting super advantages of all the enterprise editions anyway).
  • dev tools – Visual Web Developer Express is free

so there you have it…they are both “free” for using.  well, hosting is still cheaper for linux! really?  because a check at one provider shows the same features available on BOTH platforms for $2.95/month.  No difference in cost for Windows and yes, that includes a SQL database as well.  well, if i host it myself then i still have to buy windows! true.  but i’d argue you should be *buying* your operating system anyway…if your system is mission critical to your business, it seems only the smart thing to do to have someone accountable for the software you are using.  *BUT* windows doesn’t have to be expensive.  think outside the box.  do you really need windows enterprise edition for a web host platform?  no.  most hardware (i’m not evening mentioning hardware costs in this comparison because that is a sunk cost and both have to incur it) vendors will put windows web edition on it for $100 or so.  that’s all you need — it will run asp.net, sql express, etc.  can it be a domain controller? no, but do you want that in your front-end hosting environment anyway?!  there is also SPLA licensing — look into it…it’s a pay-per-use plan that allows you to scale!

the days of open source being SOOO much cheaper than a microsoft solution are over and waning away in my opinion.  the evidence is in the efforts microsoft is doing to bring that barrier down, what hosters are doing, etc.

anywhoo — just my lame 2 cents for the day.  if there is imperical evidence that this scenario (shared hosting of a simple web site) is SOOO much cheaper on LAMP, i’d love to see it, because i haven’t yet.

[UPDATE: added dev tools bullet which i neglected…thanks Joe]

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