People working at airlines don't like to talk about crashes, not even those affecting their computers.
So it might seem strange to see a major airline turn to Windows, a product much-maligned as crash prone, as the only way to run a successful business. Yet for Jeff Cohen, chief information officer of JetBlue Airways, Windows is the only way to run a successful business--in fact, it's a nearly 100 percent Microsoft software operation. [...]
JetBlue, which operates one of just a few profitable airlines, saw its operating revenue jump 96 percent year over year in the fourth quarter and more than 98 percent for 2002 compared with the previous year. [...]
Cohen's organization would like to take some credit for those margin gains. By standardizing on one operating system and using other Microsoft software, the JetBlue CIO says he cut the company's technical staff by 50 percent. Electronic publishing of pilot manuals, which are available on a cockpit laptop, also helps cut costs. For Cohen, standardization of information technology, like the approach to the planes, is helping to keep JetBlue in the black when other airlines fly in the red.
-- Helping JetBlue see black
How do you argue with that logic? IT departments don't exist to keep Sun, IBM, Oracle or Microsoft in the black. They exist to manage corporate information technology and enable the business to function.
Microsoft is the only IT vendor that aims to offer a standardized solution for the entire enterprise -- from the palmtop and the laptop to the backoffice server clusters. (Don't even think about telling me that Linux hits all of those targets -- we all know that Linux is anything but standardized.) In a sense, they're also the only IT vendor who sees this problem and aims to solve it. Sun? Java? They only address aspects of the problem -- commoditize the OS until it's a non-issue. But the CIO needs to worry about managing every OS installed in his enterprise...
Do the gains from a single standard platform outway the costs of using better technology? Sure, there are risks to homogeneity, and yes, there are more security issues than average when dealing with Microsoft software. But none of those risks will ever go away; they can only be hedged. So if you're willing to pay all of those costs, do you still come out ahead by standardizing everything on a single platform?