[clug] Any Public Service organisations using Linix desktop and Open Office?

Kim Holburn kim.holburn at gmail.com
Thu Jul 3 06:28:02 GMT 2008

On 2008/Jul/03, at 5:41 AM, Daniel Rose wrote:

> Note that I have never been in a management or purchasing role, but  
> this is my understanding:
> If you have a stable, installed base of windows computers, and the  
> per-seat licencing is very cheap, then you need a very convincing  
> business case to change, and pricing won't cut it.

I don't see how you can say that.  It's not only not cheap, when you  
add all the crap like AV, anti-malware, decent software firewall and  
applications in, it's not cheap, it's not simple.  It's not simple to  
install, it's not even simple to manage the licenses.

> While it's easy to put together a case for a cheaper FOSS  
> environment, it's harder to make it cheap enough to justify the risk  
> involved.
> All change carries risk.  In the short term there are big costs  
> involved in the change, such as the IT staff turnover, and the time  
> required to make the changes.  The "missing" or "broken" features of  
> the new environment will be noticed by staff right away, whereas the  
> features and other benefits that FOSS might have will take longer to  
> be discovered by each staff member without expensive training.

It's been a good MS line but they have shot themselves in the foot  
with it over vista.

> In general, one could argue that in business you need to take risks  
> to make money.  It's not just that the Government executives are  
> risk-averse for selfish career reasons, it's more that they are not  
> running for-profit entities.  In general this is a good thing,  
> Government departments should not use public money in risky  
> endeavours.

Are you saying that Government departments should waste the public's  
money?  Not to mention force the public to use proprietary systems to  
communicate with them?

> Now the cost per seat from MS for OEM/Select/academic/Govt pricing  
> is so low as a fraction of the desk/phone/PC/wages cost that there's  
> a fairly small percentage savings to be made financially.

When you add up all things like: OS, Applications, protection,  
licensing negotiation and compliance.  I don't believe it's low at all.

> In any case, if the business unit uses the must spend budgeting  
> system (or whatever the proper name is!) then they will only need to  
> find something else to buy instead so as not to have a smaller  
> budget next year.
> I can see a few ways widespread adoption of a FOSS OS in a govt dept  
> might come about:
> 1) Evangelical drive from the boss/CIO, which is not the 'right' way  
> to do things.

but it's OK if it's for windows?

> 2) A niche product that's really the absolutely best tool for the  
> specific work being done that's Linux only
> 3) A long run of job applicants who consistently refuse to work in a  
> Windows environment

What and don't get the work?

> 4) Government regulation (again, not the right way things should work)

Why not?  Regulating say that document standards must be open in the  
sense that there must be at least 2 completely different office suites  
that can read and edit the same documents, a second source in other  
words.  Or they could regulate that the public must be able to  
interact with a department without using Microsoft products.  The  
regulation simply needs to stop MS forcing its monopoly, not only on  
the department but on everyone who has to deal with it.

You could also say that the Australian government should be using  
local developers at least as part of the software they use rather than  
outsourcing the whole thing to a single US company.  Regulation  
doesn't have to be anti-Microsoft, it just has to mandate real open  
and interoperable standards.

> 5) A doubling or more of the price of Windows+Office relative to the  
> overall workstation costs

Actually I think the TCO for using MS products is already pretty  
high.  If the cost of change is so high then it's important to look at  
cost of change and TCO and cost of being locked in to MS for the  
foreseeable future.

> 6) A whole new approach from vendors.  Tentatively.... I can imagine  
> a single FOSS vendor with FOSS-savvy staff who can sell, supply and  
> manage the lot under an outsourced model, with generous contracts  
> and maybe even money in escrow.  This would not necessarily be very  
> profitable for the vendor, but if you have a big backer (Canonical  
> haven't made profit yet, as I understand it) then a department might  
> agree.  This means hardware, OS, software, helpdesk, firewalls,  
> VOIP, network monitoring and reporting, email, the entire IT setup  
> as a commodity.  I think if you can do this, and deliver on promises  
> to add or fix things the department thinks are missing or broken,  
> then they might say yes.  The idea is to extract the residual value  
> between the high risk that CIOs might think FOSS has, and the low  
> risk that FOSS experts are confident that it doesn't have.  However,  
> I'm not sure that you can make much money though, especially if the  
> FOSS experts want salaries comparable with tho
> se offered by the private sector to do more interesting work!
> </ramble>

I don't see why it needs to be a big change in the way they work just  
for a change in OS.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
Ph: +39 06 855 4294  M: +39 3494957443
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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