[clug] AGIMO seeks comments (again) on productivity software file formats

Scott Ferguson scott.ferguson.clug at gmail.com
Fri Feb 17 14:32:12 MST 2012

On 17/02/12 21:25, Steve Walsh wrote:
> On 02/17/2012 08:27 PM, Paul Wayper wrote:
>> On 02/17/2012 12:24 PM, Alex (Maxious) Sadleir wrote:
>>> Last time on the AGIMO Blog:


>> "Microsoft has achieved vendor lock-in exactly the way you all told
>> us they would, and now we're going to hand them all the money they
>> want because we're afraid of the cost of change."
> No, I'm sure it reads
> [our job is] "not to choose a more perfect standard and then move 
> 265,000 PCs to it"

The issue is whether they've made they've the correct decision. As
required by legislation, not by some sophist argument. That some of
those opposed to the decision can't balance a chequebook doesn't
(obviously) mean that AGIMO made a correct decision either.

> Agimo isn't a "super desktop deployment team",

<snipped, nice promo - but not even faintly relevant>

>> Microsoft sells vendor lock-in as a feature: if you buy our 
>> products, all your stuff will work together.

> And that sounds wonderfully tempting to a CIO who hasn't also been a
> sysadmin or on desktop support - because it's about as realistic as
> "and you can write your documents in Microsoft Word and then publish
> them directly as HTML!".

Are you trolling?
Is this a troll?

> Yes, this would be a problem. It would be a horrendous problem. 
> Insurmountable, in fact. If the community was the one providing the 
> training, the support and all the little commercial extras and 
> addons.
> But we're not.

"We", being the "community"?

If "we" was Linux Australia and various companies working in much the
same way as W3C would that be different?

> Companies like Red Hat, Oracle (love them or hate them),

I don't recall hearing Oracle ever pushing Open Source.

> HP, IBM, Unisys, Squiz Interactive etc, are the ones that should be 
> trying to push open source to AGIMO.

Don't hold your breath - those companies (and many others) do make use
of Open Source - but pushing Open Source, and using Open Source ain't
the same thing. (as does Sony, Apple, and Microsoft)

Without a non-competing player co-ordinating the (self-)interested
commercial interests, Open Source won't get a mention.

Have you ever seen the IBM Open Source ad on Australian television?

Novell managed to sell a lot of SuSE without ever mentioning Open Source
- Red Hat rarely mentions it either (it would confuse the customer and
invite competition).

> Yes, squiz worked with AGIMO to produce the web publishing and web 
> content accessibility guidelines whitebook. But we have the PM&C 
> website still running on Coldfusion.
> This comes back to points I've raised before (hold off on hitting 
> that delete key for a second), we have 165k public servants. I can 
> remember someone ruminating at CLUG one time that only about half the
> people in the APS actually do any work, so let's halve that to 87.5k
> people.

Huh? Why?

> AGIMO decide to ditch MS Office, and roll out Libre office. So, 
> that's 87,500 people that now need to undertake a basic bit of 
> training so they know how to mail merge, hack up the XML to do that 
> thing that is only a two button click on Office, etc. Call it $250 a 
> head, so that's $21,875,000 for that bit of training.
> Let's be fair and say another 20k of those now need some mysql 
> training so they can rebuild all those crappy little access databases
> they use. call that $500 (cheap, I know, but stay with me and keep
> your finger off the delete key). $10,000,000 right there.

The actual costs would be much, much higher. Packaging and delivery of
"an" office suite alone is more than $500 ea. (most "computer operators"
cost almost as much to support as they earn). Non of which advances your
argument - those *exact* same costs are incurred as of every OS upgrade
Part of the last 3 Group 8 rollouts in fact. Are we allowed to use
facts? :-)

I'm guessing you had a bad day and visions of RMS clones clogging your
tubes with shouts of "Free Software now, we'll brook no compromises"
prompted that. Sadly the dramatic hyperbole and ridicule just undermines
you whole stance on this, so far, unsubstantiated ruling.

But let's take the sophist assertion that changing OS *is* more
expensive in the short term *and* that the pixies decreed *all* MS must
be abandoned (shades of Howard's pre-conditions for stage 2 Telstra and
the existing Novell licenses?) and consider some of the factors you
appear to have overlooked:-

1. There are savings to be gained in *not* requiring OS mandated
hardware upgrades, not just of computing hardware but also peripherals
and consumables, and considerable reductions of existing legacy support

2. Long term training, documentation and support savings given more
control over changes.

I suspect you also overlooked the large amount of money invested in
hardware, software, and training (manuals, courses, people skills) that
is binned with *every* upgrade rollout.

Increased spending is not necessarily bad!:-

;It's money that stays in the country - as opposed to a lesser amount
that would otherwise leave the country and *not* return.

;It's an investment in *our* IT infrastructure - not just in fees for
work on the implementation and support - but in education systems, money
not spend on welfare (how much less money would be leaving the country
just for MSCE training?)

;It's an economic stimulus.

> Now, every time some starts in the APS, every second person will need
> to do training (keeping up the "only half" principle).


Many already undergo training. Change the environment from what they are
accustomed to in school and other business and you'll also eventually
change what people are used to - so:-
; it's not like making Esperanto the law and banning English
; it's a short term thing;
; like any real life rollout - it's incremental, not some regime change.

> I'm going to ignore the lost productivity as half the public service
> decamps for 3 weeks to complete training here as it's initially
> rolled out.

Again - you're ignoring reality - we rollout new environments and the
associated hardware every few years - and it never happens like that.

> And if only half the people in the APS do work, that means
> everything grinds to a halt for that period.

No.  That outcome doesn't happen because the preconditions for you
argument are incorrect.

> Everyone in IT will need to do some inkscape training so they can do 
> the pretty diagrams to send off to vendors. Call that $750 for
> 40,000 people, or $30,000,000

Again - wrong.
Show me where "everyone" use the equivalent of inkscape.
Hint: "everyone" doesn't get Adobe licenses or a full MS Office suite.

> So. 165,000 people cost $85,800,000 in MS licences.

Presuming that existing software was *not* able to run on a new OS. It
also overlooks the existing upgrade roll outs (roughly every five years)
- where that retraining already takes place.

> 87,500 people cost $0 in licences, and a paltry $61,875,000 in 
> training. Think of the boon for the training industries! Why won't 
> someone think of the training industries!
> The point I'm trying to make here is that you cannot say to AGIMO 
> "Open source is totally free! you don't have to pay a cent!" when 
> they have to think about having 87,500 people having the tools, 
> training and support they need to their job.

I'll agree with your strawman - though I hope you're not trying to
advance that as an serious argument not to use Open Source (or Open
Standards). I don't hear anyone saying CLUGs should provide government
software support - or that Open Source is without cost. Directly and
indirectly the Group 8 alone already spend millions pa on Open Source -
and it's not necessarily and all or nothing proposition. So far all I've
read in the referenced story are some very poor arguments for *not*
considering Open Source at all (which I kind of expect from that

You might as well advance security "concerns" and overlook MS being
foreign, or how "phone home" is illegal to deploy in any Group 8

> It might sound great to get every government CIO into a room, give 
> them a slick demonstration of how easy it is to configure software 
> raid in anaconda, demonstrate how postfix, exim and sendmail work out
> of the box, and the best part is they don't need to expensive support
> contracts, because their staff can just email the local LUG, but that
> just won't fly;

Btrusted, IBM, EDS, and others already do a decent business out of
government services - they don't bother selling Open Source - they just
sell services as a black boxes.

> " from: Peter.<redacted>@<redacted>.gov.au subject" <redacted> 
> <redacted> on <redacted> [SEC: TOP SECRET]
> Hi guys
> I've installed <redacted> onto our <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> with <redacted> Gb of <redacted> and <redacted> Gb of <redacted> . 
> Whenever I try to <redacted> the <redacted> , I get a whole bunch of 
> log files with the below in them;
> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> <redacted> 
> <redacted> <redacted>
> Has anyone using version <redacted> of <redacted> seen this happen
> on <redacted> hardware?
> yours
> Peter <redacted> Department of <redacted> and <redacted> "
> Just not the same, is it?

I do hope *that* is not meant to be a serious argument.


>> - - but it's a terribly difficult job, since the FOSS community 
>> doesn't have an actual hierarchy or public relations bureau and 
>> CIOs

It has Linux Australia though Paul

>> at the moment don't understand why a random guy in a business
>> shirt and well-clipped beard is bothering them about how freedom
>> and zero cost are worth more than an interoperable straitjacket
>> when they've got a meeting in five minutes with the head of
>> Microsoft Asia-Pacific.
> That seems like a pretty wide reaching generalisation, Paul.

It is - but there is some truth in it.

And if you'd ever had a McAfee rep offer to buy you some drinks after
"bumping" into you in a cafe at your lunch break you wouldn't be so
quick to dismiss it.

> Do you have any indications that MSFT is shipping zone managers 
> around to negotiate site licence deals, even with AGIMO?

cough. Steve Balmer (not a zone manager right?) flew out here for the
day just to meet John Howard and kill the Telstra SuSE deal - have you
forgotten that?
Oh that's right - it was about jobs for Australians wasn't it... oh
wait, what happened to all those jobs at the MS research centre? Seems
like it's just a sales rep and two lawyers in an office near the merry
go round in Civic - and one of those spends most of her time in Singapore.

In the end I suspect the reason there isn't more interest in Open Source
in business and government is not because of economics, and only
partially because (in some areas) the product is not up to scratch -
mostly the reason are psychological. And the same things that's fix the
problem would kill the cure (commercial interests and marketing).
I don't believe their is an answer to "how do we get the government to
mandate Open Office standards" - you'd still have to convince a lot of
Ffffacebook fan ps to *use* something that contradicts their deep
emotional investment in a brand - the real answer 'might' be more
unpalatable to the RMS supporters than the current situation (Google
apps). At least with Google Apps you've only got to move people from one
web app to another - the same is not so easy with fondle slabs/Windows.

Kind regards

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