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Ubuntu Linux Alternatives and Competitors

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JonathanShilling
System Analyst II at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Has a standard file system layout so it's easy to navigate

Pros and Cons

  • "I like the fact that most of the system configuration is Namespace so it's easy to get to and easy to configure, and most of it still uses text documents. Not all of it's a menu-driven-type entry. I also like the fact that it's a very standard file system layout so it's easy to navigate."
  • "I'd like to see more of NCurses type menu systems in some instances. We're dealing with SUSE Enterprise Linux, they have an NCurses menu system. It's a menu system. It will write there. Even some of the higher-end Unix systems like AIX have some inner menu system where all the configuration tools are right there so your administrator doesn't have to jump through multiple directories to configure files if needed. I like the simplicity of Red Hat because it's pretty easy but having an NCurses menu when you have to get something done quickly would be nice."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is to develop the servers and production. It's pretty standard usage. We have some Docker running but I haven't been involved in those environments very often. It's a standard server on minimal load and we're not using a full load with our GUI interface.

We have multiple applications running on both Windows and RHEL. The database systems are mostly MySQL. There's some Oracle but most of it is MySQL. Dealing with Red Hat is pretty straightforward. I haven't run into issues with it. 

When we were running multiple versions of Java, if patches came out for both versions, we would apply the patches for both versions and usually, that could be downloaded. It was pretty simple to update those. Those are systems-supported patches. With the specific application patches, it's a little different. Normally the application administrators take care of those themselves.

If Red Hat's system is set up right, it improves the speed and performance reliability of our hardware because it doesn't use as many resources as a Windows system.

What is most valuable?

I like the fact that most of the system configuration is Namespace so it's easy to get to and easy to configure, and most of it still uses text documents. Not all of it's a menu-driven-type entry. I also like the fact that it's a very standard file system layout so it's easy to navigate.

In some instances, it provides features that help speed development. In other instances, it's standard amongst most Linux groups. You can download the main features. The file system is always a big difference. You go from a Debian-based system to Red Hat, so the file system layout is a little bit different. User-based files are located versus system-based files. RHEL keeps everything in one area and segregates it. It makes it easier to go between different organizations and still have the same policies and structure. I do like the new package manager.

It's all text-based, all command line, whereas the minimal load does not have a GUI on it. If you're used to using Windows core servers, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but going from a Windows GUI-based system to an RHEL command-line-based system is a learning curve for most Windows administrators. A lot of strictly Windows administrators don't even want to look at a command line from Red Hat because the commands are so different from what they're used to. There is a learning curve between the two major platforms.

The application and user experience are usually pretty consistent, but that really depends on the application developer. If they're developing an application, it'll be consistent costs on infrastructure. That's not an issue between the different platforms. User experience is based on how the application developer built it. They're not all in-house and so they developed across a consistent platform. They keep everything pretty simple from the user perspective.

It enables us to deploy current applications and merging workloads across physical hardware and VMs. Virtualization and physical hardware stay consistent. Going to the cloud depends on the platform we use but it'll mostly be consistent as well. The RHEL distribution has been implemented pretty well amongst most of our cloud providers. It's pretty standard now, whether we go to Rackspace, Amazon, Azure, or even Microsoft supporting RHEL distribution. You can go to a Microsoft Azure cloud and have a Red Hat Enterprise Linux system running there. The user would probably never notice it.

For Red Hat, the bare metal and virtualized environments are pretty reliable. The only thing I don't like about Red Hat is that every time you do an update, there are patches every month and you have to reboot the system. Fortunately, it's a single reboot versus Microsoft, which likes multiple reboots, but still, you have to reboot the system. You have to reboot the server. The newer updates have kernel patches involved in them. To implement that new kernel, you have to reboot the system, and Red Hat's best policy and best practices are to reboot the system after patching.

I used the AppStream feature a couple of times. Not a whole lot because a lot of our environment is specific to what we deploy. Normally I would just deploy the bare system, adding features requested by the application administrator, and they'll download the rest of the things that they need.

We have used the tracing and monitoring tools in certain instances but not consistently. We use them for troubleshooting but not every day. We use other third-party software to monitor the system logs and alert on the issues. They will run tracing analysis of the systems. The reason we don't always use it is because of the number of servers I have to deal with and the low band power.

Automation is however you set it up. As for running a cloud-based solution, a lot of it would be automated. Going from prior experience, dealing with it before coming to this company, we did a lot of cloud deployment and it's pretty consistent and reliable and you could automate it pretty easily. 

RHEL accelerated the deployment of cloud-based workloads in my previous experiences. Compared to no other solution at all, it's obviously a vast improvement. You have to worry about Windows. As soon as you bring the server up, it requires numerous patches and it'll take several reboots unless you have an image that is very patched and deployable there. Even then, every month you get new patches. Red Hat patches a lot faster than Windows and requires a single reboot. The speed of deployment is a hazard. It's almost twice as fast deploying an RHEL solution as it is a Windows solution.

What needs improvement?

I'd like to see more of NCurses type menu systems in some instances. We're dealing with SUSE Enterprise Linux, they have an NCurses menu system. It's a menu system. Even some of the higher-end Unix systems like AIX have some inner menu system where all the configuration tools are right there so your administrator doesn't have to jump through multiple directories to configure files if needed. I like the simplicity of Red Hat because it's pretty easy but having an NCurses menu when you have to get something done quickly would be nice.

For how long have I used the solution?

I started using Red Hat back in 1996. I've been using it for at least 20 years, off and on. I was hired as a Linux administrator for RHEL 6, 7, and 8, and then I changed my job positions. I'm not actively using RHEL right now.

Unfortunately, we're moving away from RHEL to Oracle Enterprise Linux in the next couple of months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

RHEL is a very stable product. It's been around for a long time now. It's been stable since they brought it out as an enterprise environment. It's usually not the bleeding edge of Linux. That just means it has more stability in the packaging and the repositories. They keep the bleeding edge updates and things out of it most of the time, which means if you have new features that you want to implement, you have to do some finagling to get those features in place. But it does mean the system's more stable, for the most part.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable. I haven't seen any issues with the scalability of Red Hat. I've used it in environments where we have a few hundred people to a couple of thousand people. I've never seen any issues with scalability. It's one of the big sell points of RHEL. It's as scalable as Unix.

There are around 500 developers who use it. Web-facing interfaces, it's in the thousands.

If you're using a small environment with no more than around 100 to 200 servers, one or two people can handle most of the RHEL stuff pretty quickly.

If it's a larger environment, then you're looking at staff upwards from six to 15, depending on the environment the product's being used for.

There is a system administrator to perform the initial deployment of a server to the maintenance of the server. Then there are the application developers who develop the application, write the applications, and just manage applications. In our environment, we currently have sysadmins who manage the systems. My job is to manage the actual operating system itself. Then, you have application developers, who develop applications for user-facing systems. The application managers manage those applications, not only the developed applications.

It's being used pretty extensively. It's 1,100 to 1,200 servers on one site. 

We're using at least 85-90% of the features of RHEL but we don't really use Ansible that extensively. Red Hat Satellite server we're using as a primary repository in one site. Based on RHEL, we use most of these features.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We are switching to another solution mainly because a number of databases in use are based on that system. They want to expand that database and some other products that come with switching from RHEL to LEL. That's the main reason. As I understand it, the licensing isn't that different with a more centralized approach, so convenience is a large factor.

We switched to RHEL from AIX because of the developer and the cost. AIX is usually implemented on specific hardware. IBM owned the hardware. So the cost for running AIX is a lot more expensive than running an RHEL solution, which can be run on virtual systems as well as physical systems. And x86 servers are a lot cheaper than a power system.

Open-source was also a factor in our decision to switch to RHEL. Open-source has allowed a lot of development in areas, more ingenuity, innovation, and products than other constricted OSs. My opinion is that when you're dealing with open-source, you have people who are more likely to innovate and create new things. It's easier to develop an open-source platform than it is to use a closed source platform because then you can't get to the APIs, you can't do anything in the system if you want to change things in the system to make your product more available to people.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. I've even set servers up at home on a pretty regular basis. I have my own lab, so I've deployed it and it's pretty straightforward. With RHEL, the setup is nice because you get a GUI, so any Windows-based user is going to be familiar with the GUI and know what to look at. They can deploy software as needed, right there from the menu. From a TextBase, you can script it to where all you have to do is run a script and it'll deploy the server quickly. It's pretty straightforward.

Personally, I wouldn't be able to speak to the installation. Having a single point is always a benefit because then you don't have to jump around multiple points to download software and to deploy your solution. The only thing about it is with Docker, a lot of times you have to go out to the Docker site to download the newest versions.

If you're running Satellite, it's even easier because all your current patches are downloaded. The iOS is already there and a lot of time is it's a straight script that you can deploy quickly. The single-point install is a good thing.

Depending on what you're running it on and what kind of equipment you're running, it can take anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour. That depends on the equipment.

What about the implementation team?

They had Unix admins on site. They were implemented to bring in the Red Hat environment because of the similarity between Unix and Red Hat.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If you implement Ansible, that's an additional cost. If you implement Satellite, that's an additional cost to your licensing. However, the amount of licensing if you license 100 servers is actually cheaper per server than licensing 50 or 25.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The first one that comes to mind as a real competitor would be SUSE. It's built-in Germany. Ubuntu is a commendable product but I don't find it as reliable or as easy to administer as I do RHEL. A lot of developers like it because it's really easy. It's more geared towards a home-user environment than it is a corporate environment. The support factor for RHEL is good. If you need to call tech support, it's there.

What other advice do I have?

I have used Satellite and Ansible in other environments. Satellite integrates very well. It's built by Red Hat, so it integrates thoroughly and it allows a single point of download for all patches and any software deployments you have. You can automate server builds, if you do it right, and make things a lot easier.

Ansible can tie into Satellite and RHEL fairly easily. It allows you to build multiple types of deployments for multiple solutions, and allows a playbook-type deal. You develop a playbook and send it out and it builds a server for the user. Done.

It would speed up deployment and make it easier to manage. If you had a developer who needed to throw up a box real quick to check something, he could run a playbook, throw up a server and rather quickly do what he needed to do. Then dismiss the server and all resource reviews return back to the YUM. If it was hardware, it would be a little bit different, but if we run a virtualization environment, they return all resources back to the host. So it made matching servers and deployment a lot simpler and less work on the operations environment.

The best advice I could give is if you're going from a Windows environment to an RHEL environment, there's a learning curve that is going to be a factor during implementation management and basic administration. Your company would probably need to hire new people just to support an RHEL environment. Between SUSE and RHEL, the number of people who know SUSE very well in the US is not as high as it is in Europe. RHEL has become more of a global OS than SUSE, though they're both comparable. I would advise looking at what you need it to do and then make sure you have the infrastructure, people, and manpower to support it.

There's a huge number of resources out there. You have sites geared specifically for RHEL administration. I believe IT Central Station has some resources on its site as well. There are Usenet groups and different forums. TechRepublic has a large number of resources as well. There are numerous resources out there to ease the learning curve.

There are a lot of things I've learned over the years using RHEL. Running it as a virtual design environment where you can run multiple servers on a single hardware piece makes it a lot more cost-effective and you don't have the resource depletion as you would have with Windows. Unfortunately, Windows is a resource hog. RHEL can be set up to run very minimally, with virtually no overhead other than the applications you're using to service users. 

I would rate it a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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GO
CEO at a computer software company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 5
Powerful with high availability and very stable

Pros and Cons

  • "Oracle Solaris is great due to the fact that it actually is meant for high-end servers."
  • "Currently, there are two variants, there's SPARC and there's x86. I would have wanted a scenario where they're all just one product."

What is our primary use case?

Clients mainly use the solution as a database operating system in many environments. Most who are using it are financial institutions, telecoms, or companies in the energy sector. 

What is most valuable?

Of late the most valuable feature is virtualization. They have attained virtualization and it's quite simple to create the Oracle Solaris zones.

The solution is quite powerful.

Oracle Solaris is great due to the fact that it actually is meant for high-end servers. 

The high availability is great. You can clone and you can do quite a number of things with them. There's also the ZFS File system which is very good. Is one of the best file systems that there is.

What needs improvement?

Most of the product is still command-line, despite the fact that they've got a graphical user interface in some areas. For some reason, core administration is still done via command-line.

The manufacturer can put most of those command-line environments into classical use like other operating systems. With Solaris the administration part is through command-line which may be difficult for some people who may not be used to that way of working.

Currently, there are two variants, there's SPARC and there's x86. I would have wanted a scenario where they're all just one product.

I would have loved if the clustering data was a bit simpler. Currently, the clustering data is a product on its own. It would be great if there was higher availability data with that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been an Oracle Solaris consultant for over 20 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is the most stable operating system compared to other operating systems that I know. If you look at it, it's rarely attacked by viruses and it rarely fails due to its reliable hardware. SPARC is normally very stable.

It rarely fails. Even if it fails, it gives you a lot of warnings in the logs. The log warnings are very clear. If you follow along you really get to the crux of the matter. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When it comes to scalability, it's even more scalable than other competitors given the fact that it's a high-end operating system.

It ranges from one single processor to over a hundred cores. It's a very scalable operating system. I'd say it's more scalable than any Linux and Windows environment - in vertical scaling, that is. The SPARC servers are extremely powerful. You can put a very huge database on it or even a very big application.

How are customer service and technical support?

Oracle support is good. The only this is that it is expensive. At the end of the day, if you are on Oracle support you are sorted out quickly. They are very responsive and knowledgable. If you are not on Oracle support you have to support it yourself and figure out what the issues are without their assistance.

With Oracle, everything is together and it comes nearly with all the patches and it's really great. If you put it on Oracle hardware, everything is there and it still works with Oracle. Once it's in installed the only issues that may arise are performance issues, and that may be a configuration problem on your end. 

At the end of the day, Oracle support will support you, and they will sort you out. They normally release patches on a regular basis. It used to be a monthly basis, however, I think now it's a quarterly basis. Those patches can help you if there's a new hardware release, which is not on your old Solaris environment.

How was the initial setup?

In the latest versions, the initial setup is not very complex. Solaris is normally of two variants. There is the SPARC variant and there is the Intel variant. 

With the implementation, the steps and procedures are very clear. You just install more if you're installing in SPARC or if you're installing it on an Oracle hardware.

It's very easy to install due to the fact that all the patches are there, unlike other products where you have to put apart from this other side of all these. With this solution, everything is there, so it's very straightforward. The implementation is very, very straightforward, and simple by the way.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This is a free product. It doesn't cost anything. What you can purchase is support. 

If you buy Oracle hardware it's supported free with the hardware. If you're putting it on non-Oracle hardware, that is when you buy the support license, which is also very reasonable. It is $1000 dollars per year, so it's not overly expensive. 

If you compare what it can do with how much Oracle charges for support, it's more or less free.

What other advice do I have?

In our company, we don't use Oracle Solaris. As a person, I was employed as a Solaris System Administrator. I'm just a consultant. We don't use Oracle Solaris, because we're not big enough to use the solution ourselves. 

Overall, I'd rate the solution nine out of ten.

I would highly recommend Oracle Solaris. It's a stable operating system and it's been around for a long time. If you're planning to have an Oracle Database, the best operating system for the Oracle Database is Oracle Solaris.

If anybody is implementing a new solution or a new environment and thinks of putting in Oracle Database, the first option would be Oracle Solaris, then they can look at other OSs like Windows and Linux.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
LD
Director Lean Infrastructure at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 5
Familiarity, maturity and popular productivity tools make this OS almost indispensable

Pros and Cons

  • "It is familiar and mature and runs the most popular productivity tools."
  • "The operating system could be more configurable and compatible in integrating with other operating systems."
  • "The core of the operating system needs work to become more stable and less complex. The need to occasionally re-install should not be necessary."

What is our primary use case?

I am using Windows 10 together with Ubuntu Linux as an operating system.  

What is most valuable?

I am in the technical, IT area. I love the new Windows subsystem for Linux. Version two came out recently. I like the new functionality and mostly the better integration between the networks and the Windows 10 core system.  

I also like that Windows is great for gaming. The gaming experience may actually be the thing that I like the most personally.  

What needs improvement?

I always compare products with the competition or what open-source products are doing. I would love for Microsoft to provide or participate in more open-source projects. They could do more expansion with less R&D and learn from what other developers do.  

The Windows interface could be much more flexible from a perspective of the user's experience. If you compare other operating systems to the standard Windows desktop experience, the level of configuration for Windows is not so great. You should be able to do more to customize it from the way it looks to the way it performs.  

What I also do not likes is the core of the Windows architecture. The registries and complexities that may help it to run fast also lead to issues, latent files, and other issues. Everyone who uses the product knows about having to reinstall Windows. This problem is something that still exists in the latest versions. The operating system works against itself and becomes slower after months of usage. The lag is more apparent if you install a lot of different applications. Eventually, this causes more serious issues and you need to reinstall the operating system. This is not something that you ever have to do on a Linux operating system. Linux is much more flexible. It is much cleaner and it is much easier to configure to your needs.  

One other issue I have with Microsoft — more than just the Windows operating system — is the lack of compatibility of their productivity tools suite. Nowadays, most people cannot live without their Office applications. Microsoft is the leader in this. Their Office products are not supported on Linux. In my opinion, the real reason people are still using Windows is not that it is a great operating system, it is because of the integrated productivity tools and familiarity.  

For Windows, the core of the operating system needs improvement from the perspective of flexibility and stability.  

As far as additional features, it is hard to really pinpoint something that Windows is missing. I think from a feature perspective and as a mature product, they are already pretty feature-heavy. They essentially have everything that a person could need and I do believe that Microsoft is doing a great job from the perspective of continually providing new features.  

I would prefer that they further developed the possibility of running other operating system applications. I like the features we got from Windows 10 to help incorporate the use of the Linux system. But I would love it if they made the effort to further expand on that.  

So the ability to better integrate with and run other operating systems would be a nice addition.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the Windows OS product since Windows 3.1 or 3.11. So, I have more than 15 years of experience with Windows. We have been working with Windows 10 for about four years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In general, the stability of the Windows operating system has greatly improved over the years. The latest versions of Windows 10 is the most improved and it is much better than it was. It still has room for improvement.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We currently have about 250 people using Windows 10 in our organization. There is no real scalability concern.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I am an ex-Microsoft employee, so I do have experience with technical support for Microsoft and the Windows 10 product. The guys on that team are great. They are certainly going out and doing their best. They are helpful. They have made a huge improvement over the last few years. They changed a lot of things in the process of how they work with customers. But honestly, I very rarely open a ticket related to Windows 10. I do not find a need for that. I am in the IT field. I fix issues all the time by myself if I have any with the operating system.  

But the support team is helpful and improved.  

How was the initial setup?

The installation is very straightforward.  

What other advice do I have?

Any advice I have for people considering this product depends on the use case. I would definitely recommend using Windows 10 as an operating system and a familiar choice. But I would definitely also recommend trying other operating systems. It is very important to know what other operating systems have to offer. This one operating system has massive dominance on the market and I do not like the way that 90% of the people are using only Microsoft products without even considering anything else. It is limiting. So my advice is: learn more about other desktop experiences and try Linux as well to see the differences and what it has to offer. 

On the scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Windows 10 as an eight-out-of-ten. Eight is a good rating but Windows can be better. 

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
JF
Senior Technical Project Manager at a university with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5
Offers a secure and mature operating system; consumes less memory than other systems

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution offers a secure operation system."
  • "The free version sometimes has security holes."

What is most valuable?

I like the fact that SUSE has a secure operating system. SUSE is one of the more mature versions of Linux and one of the best out there - it's very easy to install and upgrade. One of its advantages is that it doesn't consume as much memory as other operating systems and you can trim it down. If you're trying to fortify the operating system it's very easy. If you were using Windows you'd have to do all kinds of things and it would take a lot longer, it's easier with Linux. 

What needs improvement?

I think the solution needs to move away from offering so many community or feature software. They need to develop something similar to Marketplace in AWS. SUSE has a tool that allows you to patch and update and install free software to separate channels. It provides a channel to patch the operating system and add new features and another channel to deal with installing free software. When you use the tool you're dealing with everything and for security reasons I think they need to separate the free software because it's a risk, especially nowadays when we're doing a lot of fortification or strengthening the operating system. We need to have the ability to not have to deal with all the free software because it sometimes has security holes. They really should just focus on the operating system updates and give the administrator the ability to put a block on all the free software. In other words, I just want the operating system updates. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for about seven years. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't had contact with technical support. I downloaded the free version of SUSE and never purchased SUSE products. It's old, but you can use it. It's unlike the IBM Linux version, there's no free IBM Linux out there for now.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. One of the things I like about Linux is that it's a lot easier to update than, for instance, Windows. I have experience with Windows, but the last eight years I have been using primarily Linux and only use Windows when I need to clean because sometimes you try to watch videos on Linux and they don't work or require you to install an additional decoder. As far as patching goes, Linux is a lot easier to patch than Windows and a lot easier to protect than Windows, I think.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I haven't kept up on licensing costs, I haven't been selling or supporting products on a day to day basis. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In terms of other similar solutions, I know that Red Hat Linux is more complex than the standard Linux distribution but it's better because it has so many extensions and so many different products within the Red Hat family. It's a lot more mature than SUSE. Now that IBM has bought Red Hat it's going to become even better. It can become a serious competitor in the cloud, although they need to standardize the naming conventions and there isn't a convention as with Amazon where it's very easy to understand the cloud features and products, and they have a well-organized system. IBM doesn't have that.

What other advice do I have?

I've had this version of SUSE for a while and just patch it and carry out the software updates because I want to keep my environment stable. When I was installing my multiple systems, I selected the best update of the lot and SUSE was one of them. I selected several different Linux distributions. I have the SUSE Linux, Fedora, Scientific Linux and I have Mango Linux. I wanted to develop a feature on my laptop that would allow me to run multiple operating systems concurrently and have multiple keyboards on the laptop, rather than having to switch between them. It's a work in progress. 

I rate this product a nine out of 10.  

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Systems Engineer at a educational organization with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Quick and easy to deploy and offers very good integration of Microsoft products

Pros and Cons

  • "Within 10 or 15 minutes, you can build a single Windows Server and put it on production."
  • "The solution needs to be more stable and secure."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is mainly used if you have a lot of solutions that integrate with Microsoft products. The usage varies. It depends on what you want to do with it. If you want to use it for integrating for web services or integrating for OS with some of your net applications, or your C-Sharp type of environments, then Windows is your go-to.

What is most valuable?

The product is very good for those that are integrating a lot of Microsoft products. It's great at integrating them.

The initial setup is pretty easy. The deployment is very fast.

What needs improvement?

The solution needs to be more stable and secure. Linux servers are much better in terms of stability and security and are better at thwarting any form of cyber attack. You stand a better chance if you're on a Linux box if you get hit. Not that they don't get attacked. However, Windows is a high-maintenance operating system. You have to keep it up to date almost all the time, and you also need to have a lab to test your updates as some of the updates could actually break the environment. There is a fine line between keeping it updated and breaking it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for what feels like forever. It's easily been seven or eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability needs to be improved. You really need to have some sort of sandbox in order to test the updates. While it needs to be kept updated, you also run the risk of breaking your environment. It's a tricky balance. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There are not so many users on the solution. Users are only using the applications, not so much the servers themselves, however, I would say, from our systems, we've got about five people that have to look after these servers.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup process has improved over the years. Now it's actually better than it was. I would say that at this point it's straightforward. Within 10 or 15 minutes, you can build a single Windows Server and put it on production.

What about the implementation team?

You can likely handle the implementation yourself. It's easy. I did it myself. I didn't need the assistance of any outside integrator or consultant. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

You do need to pay for a license. It's reasonably priced. Of course, if you are strapped for cash, you can set up a Linux type of server basically for free. It depends on what you need.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I am aware of Linux servers. You can set up an Unbuntu server for free if you want. With Microsoft, you do have to pay. I also find Linux to be more secure. You are less likely to suffer attacks.

What other advice do I have?

We use various versions of the product. Right now, for example, it's a mix between the 2015 and 2019 versions.

Users need to be aware that they need to manage the solution properly. It could be pretty unsafe if you don't manage it properly.

I wouldn't outright recommend the solution per se. It depends on what you want to achieve or if you have the knowledge of what you want to do. I would only recommend it if you have to integrate it with other Microsoft products. There are other server platform products that are much more secure and better than Windows. That said, if you are integrating into a Microsoft environment, yes, Windows is your best option.

In general, I would rate the solution at a seven out of ten. It's great for Microsoft-heavy environments, however, it could be more secure. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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