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How can I justify using Red Hat when CentOS exists

Bocaj (84920) writes | more than 2 years ago

Red Hat Software 7

Bocaj (84920) writes "I recently spec'd out a large project for our company that included software from Red Hat. It came back from the CIO with everything approved except I have to use CentOS. Why? Because "it's free Red Hat." Personally I really like the CentOS project because it puts enterprise class software in the hands of people who might not otherwise afford it. We are not those people. We have money. In fact I questioned the decision by asking why the CIO was willing to spend money on another very similar project and not this one. The answer was "because there is no free alternative." I know this has come up before and I don't want to beat a dead horse, but this is still a very persistent issue. Our CIO is convinced that technical support for any product is worthless. He's will to spend money on "one-time" software purchases, but nothing that is an annual subscription. There is data to support that the Red Hat subscription is cheaper that many other up-front paid software products but not CentOS. The only thing it lacks is support, which the CIO doesn't want. Help?"
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7 comments

You Can Get Support ... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37879134)

You can get support for CentOS, but it comes in the form of a System Administrator. Either you'll need to hire one (if your company doesn't already have one), contract one part-time or hire them 'as needed' (billed as 'time & materials').

If you want to show the CIO that there are costs associated to CentOS put together a list of them. If the cost of these items are higher than the cost of support (either a support contract or purchasing Red Hat) then you'll be able to make your case.
* Hiring a full-time, part-time or 'as needed' Sys Admin or consultant.
* Training of in-house support staff.
* The affect that supporting it yourself will have on other projects.
* I'm sure there are other items that I'm missing or that are specific to your employer or industry.

It sounds like you're leaning towards Red Hat either because you'd like to get their tech support (freeing you from some of the responsibility - which is wise if you're not comfortable playing Sys Admin) and/or you don't think your company should be using 'free' open source software if they can afford to pay for it (thus supporting the community). Both are legitimate positions to take.

I think it's great that the choice is one open source product or another open source product (even though CentOS is basically Red Hat). Linux has come a long way, but those in charge of the budgets will always want to scrimp and save where they can.

Re:You Can Get Support ... (1)

Dragon Bait (997809) | more than 2 years ago | (#37880234)

You can get support for CentOS, but it comes in the form of a System Administrator.

Careful that you don't make it look like Linux requires an expensive sys admin and anybody can manage Windows. The fact that the CIO is at least approving Linux is a good thing.

Where's the beef? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37880778)

Web hosting companies around the world are using CentOS on their servers. Why do you have a problem with doing the same thing?

Frankly, to me it sounds like fear of being out of your depth.

Re:Where's the beef? (1)

Bocaj (84920) | about 2 years ago | (#37881642)

Web hosting is one thing. What we're doing is clustering, virtualization, NAS, databases, almost everything. We're going to run the entire company backbone off of this system. If it goes down, we go down. Out of my depth? Not really. I've been doing the GNU/Linux sysadm gig for a while now and I'm RH certified, but I am the only one. Having a support contract means that not only do I have backup if I do get in over my head, the support techs could probably walk one of the junior admins through fixing a problem if I'm unreachable. You'd think that statement alone would be enough to convince someone to purchase support, but no. If I where to be hit by a truck and they had to fix a problem they would spend whatever it took to hire a consultant and get it fixed. If that meant spending more than the cost of years of a support contract then so be it. They would be fine with that because they have no choice. My issue is that, according to what my superiors tell me, if CentOS didn't exist they would gladly purchase Red Hat. The rational is that we could instead invest the software budget in more hardware, except my hardware budget didn't go up, the money just vanished.

Re:Where's the beef? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#37881774)

What do you think web servers do? Let's see, that would include... clustering, virtualization, NAS, databases, almost everything.

Re:Where's the beef? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#37881810)

Your last point is a good one, but has almost nothing to do with the difference between CentOS and RedHat. Your need for software did not go away, it was merely displaced to third-party tools. Failure to realize that is your boss's fault, not a problem with CentOS.

Re:Where's the beef? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#37888528)

I've been in this exact situation and unfortunately the answer really is "it depends". You've hit all of the relevant points: you can afford it, you're the sole Linux support person, Linux is central to your business. Beyond that, you need to explain to your superiors that purchasing the RH support contract basically means funding security patches. Compare it to an anti-virus subscription on Windows. The fact that you're the only Linux support person still isn't a deal-breaker, though, since in-depth security auditing could simply be included as a part of your duties, in lieu of outside support. I've been in this situation before. But it really only makes sense not to get the RH support if either your in-house team is sufficiently staffed or it really would be a financial burden. And it seems like neither of those is the case for you.

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