Ubuntu ready for Business?

Hey Folks

This question pops up everytime Microsoft or Canonical release a new version or edition of their popular Operating system. Microsoft keeps on harping on its deep rooted user comfort and keeps giving UI refreshed Operating System with same old backend with minor changes – BTW they charge you for the UI design. Anyway, this is not a Windows bashing article.

Over the past several releases of Ubuntu, the operating system has undergone tremendous changes in terms of backend processes, stability and ofcourse the polish of the OS. The user experience has improved drastically and its only time, that users are comfortable using the system and cannot live without it. I am being over optimistic here :). Never the less, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is a very capable system and I am sure Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will be better than what we saw in 14.04.

From a business adoption standpoint, the erst-while monopoly of seamless integration with Microsoft products still remains for organizations that are averse to change and hate adopting newer systems resulting in significant lower costs. Such organizations will either die or will loose many of its employees if it wants to adopt new systems. The biggest change that is required for adopting new systems is at the employee level. There are many challenges that organizations undergo to make such changes. A list is mentioned below and quick work-arounds can be used to mitigate many of those challenges

  1. User experience – This is the most critical aspect of migration from Windows.
    1. Some of the simplest ways of managing it is through user training, training videos, helping users to move their work to the new system, explain to them what will work and what will not work etc.
    2. Keeping the training sessions short will ensure good attention span. Push changes gradually.
    3. The trainer not only needs to know the operating system but standard software like Libre Office (excel in particular), Gimp etc so that users feel comfortable using the system.
    4. Highlighting the security features of the Operating system, privacy controls ensure building confidence in the system
  2. Software compatibility – It is important to let people know that none of the windows software will work on the new systems. The best way to handle this is by
    1. Understanding what their windows software does and what are the alternatives for that software. Almost on all occasions, one would find an alternate software. In such scenarios, you will have to learn the software yourself first before training the users on alternative software :).
    2. Training users on saving their work in open formats which in all likely hood will work in Microsoft products as well.
  3. Administration and Maintenance
    1. Administrators will need to know Puppet for managing Updates and Upgrades for all the Ubuntu machines in the network.
    2. Apart from Puppet, other tools like OCS Inventory, GLPI, OpenLDAP, Proxy, Webservers, Samba File Servers, MySQL Database Servers, CUPS Print Servers etc should be deployed for adequate management of IT assets. All these form the crux of any IT infrastructure

Are businesses ready for migration? Well in this age, it is impossible to operate with people who cannot keep up with the new technologies and new ways of doing businesses. For smaller organizations, pushing new system is simpler than pushing in larger organizations. Doing a department-wise migration could be one strategy but a more detailed analysis is required for larger groups. The costs saved is too much to not undertake this exercise.

Cheers ! – I have made peace with Windows users ! May god bless them and save them from ignorance!

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