[Fsfe-ie] Fwd: UK Gov Green Light for Linux

Conor Daly conor.daly at oceanfree.net
Wed Nov 3 17:08:44 CET 2004

Just a little something I saw today...


[Operating systems] 
Thursday 28th October 2004		
British Government report gives green light to Linux 12:52PM 
The UK Government has released its report on the viability of Open Source
software in the public sector, giving the platform its full backing where it
offers the best value for money. 
The report arrives on the same day that Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer sent
round his executive email on the cost-savings of Windows.
Ballmer's arguments centred on the higher cost and difficulty of finding
support and in-house training for adopters of the platform along with the
exposure to intellectual property risks that Microsoft would cover you for.
Not so, says the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), department behind the
report. Any fear that support may be fragmented or difficult to obtain 'may
now be misplaced,' says the report. 'Many large suppliers such as IBM, Sun
and HP are investing considerable effort and providing tier 1 support for
the GNU/Linux operating system. Further, many proprietary software suppliers
are porting their applications to run under GNU/Linux. Linux distributors
have also extended their support life-cycles for their product sets. We
expect this trend to continue and accelerate.'
And having spent a year piloting Open-Source-based solutions from IBM and
Sun, the OGC's report makes for interesting reading on the benefits of
On the server side, the report says such a move was straightforward and the
benefits clearly measurable. Powys, for example was able to consolidate some
60 servers to just 10. The organisations also noted improved security and
better performance. Indeed the MoD Defence Academy based its complete
Intranet and Internet configuration on Linux platforms, supporting Open
Source applications and concluded that Open Source software is 'inherently
more secure than one based on proprietary software'.
Ballmer, in contrast, said in his email that 'the number of security
vulnerabilities is lower on Windows, and Windows responsiveness on security
is better than Linux.'
On the desktop, systems such as StarOffice were considered acceptable for
many of the tasks that users needed to perform. That said, no organisation
managed to do away with proprietary software altogether, as many of them
needed to maintain interoperabiility with external sites. Many of them
needed the 
Access component of Microsoft's Office that is missing from StarOffice and
OpenOffice - an issue that continues to dog Linux desktop migrations for
SMEs in the UK.
Business software fared even less well: 'Software packages available under
Open Source licences are typically limited in scope; there were no examples
of licensed OSS application packages being used for `mission-critical`
business services,' reads the report.
The likes of Novell are hoping to address this. Novell's MONO project is a
development environment that makes it easy to develop and port applications
to a multitude of platforms. This is key to allowing developers to move
their in-house software to Linux, and an invaluable tool with which Novell
can woo the corporate market too.
The other black hole for Open Source that the OGC pilots struggled with is a
lack of documentation available.
As for the legal risks, the OGC noted the existence of the SCO suit, patent
fears and the like but characterised such fears as a 'misunderstanding',
noting that while Munich had delayed a Linux move due to patent fears it had
nevertheless go ahead with it. Similarly, the only thing to take from the
SCO suit is the result of the DaimlerChrysler suit which was as good as
dismissed in favour of the car giant.
Teh cost benefits were brought home in a case study from Beaumont Hospital,
Dublin, Ireland. The hospital measured the TCO for proprietary solutions at
8.7mn. The Open Source equivalent notched up just shy of 210,000. Expertise
may be more hard to come by for the time being, but 8mn will buy you an
awful lot of that.
Cost-savings came not only from cheaper procurement and licencing costs, but
also because Open Source software will run on much older hardware, extending
the lifespan by around 50 per cent.
The OGC concludes that Open Source software is now a 'viable and credible
alternative to proprietary software for infrastructure implementations, and
for meeting the requirements of the majority of desktop users'.
Equally important is its strategic outlook: it's priority is to 'avoid
lock-in to proprietary IT products and services,' and maintain
`interoperability that support open standards'.
The report is not just a set of recommendations. The OGC was set up to
amalgamate government department purchasing to give greater buying power and
better value to government purchases. As the departments pass their
purchases through the OGC their value for money will be considered against
the findings of this report.
You can read the full report at the )OGC website

----- End forwarded message -----

Conor Daly <conor.daly at oceanfree.net>

Domestic Sysadmin :-)
  4:10pm  up 3 days, 2 min,  0 users,  load average: 0.41, 0.52, 0.33
 16:08:01  up 3 days, 1 min,  1 user,  load average: 0.14, 0.32, 0.32

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