September 05, 2003, 9:18 AM — Stepping up its campaign against the Linux operating system, Microsoft Corp. on Thursday released file and Web serving benchmark results that, it claims, show that Linux on the mainframe lags behind Windows 2003 on Intel Corp. systems in terms of performance for the money.
Microsoft ran the benchmark tests in response to what it believes were IBM's unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of running Linux on its mainframe hardware, according to Microsoft General Manager of Platform Strategy Martin Taylor. "IBM was making some claims and customers were trying to figure some things out and didn't have the facts in front of them," he said.
Taylor, who recently became MIcrosoft's Linux point man, has promised to focus on facts instead of emotional arguments when criticizing Linux and open source. Thursday's benchmark results appear to be a first effort in that direction.
It will not be the last. The company has also commissioned Forrester Research Inc. to prepare a study comparing Windows to Linux, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman who declined to comment on the specifics of the report.
The benchmark results discredit IBM's contention that a z900 mainframe processor running Linux could perform as well as three or four Intel processors running Windows at the same clock speed, Taylor said.
"One Linux image on one zSeries CPU performed at about the same as Windows NT 4 on one 900MHz Intel processor. Windows 2003 outperformed it. No question," he said.
However, Microsoft was unable to reveal at least one important fact relating to today's numbers: the source of IBM's alleged claim that a z900 processor running Linux could perform as well as three or four Intel processors running Windows. Microsoft maintains that the claim is being made to customers by IBM sales staff, but it was unable to provide any evidence of this. An IBM spokesman contacted about the issue knew nothing about this specific claim.
One industry observer welcomed Microsoft's benchmark numbers. "God help me for saying this, but I think Microsoft has made a genuine contribution here," said Rudy de Haas, an IT consultant based in Kitchener, Ontario, who has written about Linux's performance on the mainframe under the pseudonym Paul Murphy.
De Haas has criticized IBM in the past for not providing information on Linux's mainframe performance. The numbers released Thursday, though they did not come from an ideal source, were significant, he said. "There are several things you could use to raise questions about what (Microsoft) did, but the real bottom line is that no one else has done it."