Vendor lockin and value for money are the two most often stated reasons to go to FLOSS. Respondents reported these two at 4.33 and 4.05 out of 5 on average. Amen. I did not even appreciate vendor lockin until I started looking at value for money. Then vendor lockin was the elephant in the room.
About 50% of respondents hired support and the others did it in-house. This is the ultimate of escape from vendor lockin. FLOSS works for you just like all your other equipment. There is no corporate agenda from a software vendor if you don’t want that.
What is holding your organsation back from using open source?
OS related issues
- Understanding Licence and license compliance
- Availability of specific apps
- Some OSS is very immature, inferior user interfaces
- Sometimes proprietary alternatives are simply better
- Feature completeness
- [Lack of a ] community backing the open source project
That’s a summary of comments. It’s not too different from some of the comments on my blog but it’s not black and white. FLOSS is simpler than bloatware in licensing and features. Simplicity may be more important than features often enough to be valuable. It is for me, always. I don’t have time to figure out how to use the 500th feature of app X when I can do what I want with 100 features of app Y. These kinds of things may be real barriers or only perceived barriers. IMHO, mostly they are perceptions, not reality. Munich perceived that they would need a ton of money spent on training and it did not happen. It’s a GUI. One figures it out using the application, not the manual.
The study involved many organizations including the government of Brazil. I would bet they had some information of value since they actively promote FLOSS. In general it was recognized that “Desktops are perhaps the riskiest open source projects with the most stakeholders to consider.” I think that is true but one must realize that no choice will make everyone happy but openness and consultation can make resistance to change much easier.
According to Andalucia open source has saved them millions of Euros. But it has also brought other benefits. The benefits of the repository include: reduced duplication of effort, local private and public authorities can reuse and build on existing software, encouraging other expressions of openness, competition in the software market. The also see this initiative as providing local companies with an opportunity to become more competitive and provide better support thorough their detailed knowledge of open source software and development processes.
Amen. Using FLOSS is not just about money or software. It is a completely different way of doing things with many benefits. It forces people to cooperate and that’s good for everyone.
Transport for London migrated in 2007 and found 80% reductions in cost of IT sustained over years. They have saved 20 million pounds so far. That’s real money. Claims that FLOSS somehow costs more are insane especially if one considers the longer term. Forever times one licence is huge. Openness means a local IT person can understand everything in sufficient detail to fix any problems. Compliance with standards means lower costs forever.
Overall I am pleased with this report. It shows I am not out to lunch but in line with many organizations’ thinking on FLOSS. Finally this is a report that shows people are willing to risk change for obvious benefits. The last hurdle as I see it is that some still feel that FLOSS is not a quick fix with immediate benefits. The report samples a huge diversity of use of IT and FLOSS is positively received widely. That means the risks/difficulties are overcome by the flexibility of FLOSS. The hurdles are perceptions not facts IMHO. On the contrary, I have found migrations are pretty easy with just a few problems that can be solved with a bit of effort. I believe FLOSS should be the default choice until some problem proves insurmountable. I have yet to see one such problem in education. Even then, FLOSS can be used widely and non-free software for the hard case. Once FLOSS is viewed as a solution and not a problem, everything can be done.
There’s a rational basis for my conclusions. Hardware is the same for FLOSS and non-free software. FLOSS is general purpose. It can be examined, modified, used and distributed easily doing any task. There is nothing in the licence preventing that whereas the EULA of much non-free software provides an abundance of obstacles that cannot be legally overcome. The answer is clear. If you want control of your IT to maximize it’s benefit use FLOSS. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux. It works for me.