Sharing works. City governments certainly aren’t competitors and sharing the costs of software development works for them.
“The French city of Arles is content with the savings that it made by switching to free and open source enterprise applications. The city’s 2006 migration plan, however, proved too optimistic: the switch took not three but six years, and it resulted in savings worth 450,000 euro, instead of the estimated 780,000.”
When you have nails sticking up it’s the big ones you hit first. It gives the most satisfaction. Arles is already using a lot of FLOSS on the desktop, just the OS remains. They will probably get around to that one of these “refresh-cycles”. Still, savings are sufficient reason to migrate. Having software designed by you is priceless.
I was just working on one of my own web applications. It was working well in PASCAL and I wanted to see how it would work in PHP. That was a chore. It turns out to be several times slower… (UPDATE It was a mistake/suboptimization in the MySQL queries, not the application per se…) Using PHP for my web application looked like it would be easier to tweak but against that is the slower speed. Development of PHP is fast but so is PASCAL. I have some tweaks I can do and my backup plan is my PHP-expert son. Many heads are better than a few when it comes to software.
Arles no doubt had some learning experiences with its web applications. I expect that over time they will chuck M$ on the desktop as well because it adds nothing and costs a lot. That suppliers were charging more than the cost of replacement is something all users of software should consider. The world can make its own software cooperatively for much lower cost. GNU/Linux is an example. It works for me. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux.