"When then-CTO Abel was designing the company's
technical architecture, he had to conserve money as much as
possible. Viata was in the process of hiring a staff of 60, and
software-licensing fees to deploy Windows to the whole group would
easily run to $50,000. Abel couldn't justify that cost and didn't
want to pirate copies, a strategy he says many small and
medium-sized companies use.
The need to operate on a shoestring budget led to his
controversial decision to use Linux as the operating system not
only on the servers, but also at the desktop. The move was unusual
because few companies had gone wholesale with Linux at the time,
and not many people understood its inner workings.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Abel's co-workers thought he
was crazy. 'Even I told him he was making a big mistake,' says
Deven Phillips, security officer and network analyst for Viata, who
was then an outside technical consultant to the firm. Though
Phillips had some experience with Linux, 'I thought it was a little
more difficult than the average user could handle. It wasn't as
polished or friendly as modern OSes are.'