Gossip: Which Option should I Use?

August 9th, 2008

I met my friend on-line recently, and he was bemused by various options to choose from for his project.  It was actually a simple problem, he just needed to choose the combination of options that will generate best profit.  The problem is, how?

In his case, his customer contracted out a system to his company, so the profit could be represented as

    Profit = Revenue – Development Cost – Maintanence Cost – Fixed Cost

Typically people use man-hour to calculate development and maintanence cost. However, this could be deceiving. If the project fails, fewer man-hours just imply less loss. As a result, the rule is making sure the combination of options will work. In his case, most of his team members knew only Java or PHP, so he did not really have options w.r.t. programming languages. If Java and PHP could not solve his problems, the only option for him is to bail out.

Now the choice of platform. Since the platform one chose influenced fixed cost accountingly immediately, many bosses just veto any plan using Microsoft solutions because it had to be paid. Well, the real cost should be calculated by TCO (total cost of ownership), which included development cost and maintainence cost. In my friend’s case, the SA of his customer only maintained Windows and Solaris machines, and he was the only guy in his team that knew Solaris. We could basically computed that the TCO for using Windows would be lower because he had more choices for more affordable x86 servers, and he did not have to pay the man-hours for his team to learn Solaris. Once the programming languages and platform were determined, CM (Configuration Management) policy and environment could be setuped, and the project execution plan could be expanded according to the requirement analysis results. Well, it’s his job, work harder dude!

Why not Linux in this case? Linux is very close to Solaris, at least closer than Windows. This is a good question. If his customer’s SA is willing to maintain a third type of OS, sure, go ahead. If not, then who’s going to maintain the OS? Well, who propose it is the one that need to do it. Will the customer pay extra money for extra works? I kind of doubt it.

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