“The city of Ede, the Netherlands, currently has an annual total ICT budget of six million euros. According to the Dutch Berenschot benchmark for municipal ICT costs, that is 24 percent less than other municipalities of comparable size are spending. Drilling down shows that most of this reduction can be explained by Ede’s extremely low spend on software licenses: only 56 euros per full-time equivalent employee (FTE) instead of 731 euros. That’s a very impressive 92 percent less than average. Such a large reduction was achieved by moving from proprietary to open source software.” Yes. You can’t beat the price of FLOSS. “Develop once, run everywhere” works. Sharing works. Paying for the cost of development and not monopolistic prices works. Being free to use hardware to its full potential works. It’s all good.
A government that doesn’t use FLOSS like Ede is not doing the taxpayers any favour. What’s your government using? I recommend a complete FLOSS stack from the BIOS to the OS to the desktop and server. Debian GNU/Linux works for me.
- “suppliers of commercial municipal software have created an oligopoly and employ vendor lock-in trickery to keep their customers in a position of dependency”
There’s the key. Instead of being on the hook for endless costs, an organization or individual is free to choose whatever course they choose including lower costs or better performance.
- “smaller municipalities cannot afford the staff needed to develop expertise in, for example, Linux and PostgreSQL; as a result they depend on suppliers which claim to act on the best interest of their customers”
I disagree. Even a small organization can develop the necessary expertise for less money than all those damned licensing fees and restrictions. Paying once instead of forever is almost always less costly.
- “Firefox compatibility was used to break lock-in to Internet Explorer by software suppliers; since Firefox is also available for Linux and OS X, the ICT department and users have the freedom to choose the platform they prefer”
Amen to that. M$ does nothing that allows freedom and choice. Read their EULAs… Try moving a system involving M$ to another OS…
- “we don’t use Exchange over here, so we don’t have these problems. We have deployed Zarafa [a Linux-based open source mail and groupware replacement for Microsoft Exchange Server]. So when things go bad for the rest of the world after an iOS update, we have it fixed a lot sooner than those Exchange users. Zarafa is really fast with its patches. That is a huge advantage of open source: we are not depending on large suppliers using technical tweaks to force you into buying their whole ecosystem. Using open source software, we actually reduce our risks.”
Yes. Cattle stay in cattle-chutes to reduce their risks… FLOSSies go their own way because it works for them.
- “Vicrea’s Neuron Stroomlijn (in Dutch) is an information query application used by over 70 Dutch municipalities. “Originally, it ran only on Internet Explorer. On several occasions I made clear to the developers that we would throw it out, unless they made it available for Firefox. It took them some time, but now it does work with Firefox too.
So Firefox has proven to be a good tool to break the Microsoft lock-in by our suppliers. Telling them that you will be standardising on Firefox offers you a way out. Apart from that, Firefox is a great browser from a security perspective as well. They are always the first to publish a patch.”
Yep. Put as many applications as possible on the servers and use open standards. That’s a recipe for flexibility and freedom.
- “Our strategy is to gently push our users in that direction. You can use Microsoft Office at your workplace, for example, but not from home because of the license costs involved. LibreOffice, however, is offered at both locations. So a lot of interface and conversion issues are solved if you start using LibreOffice at work too. We now see our users moving away from Microsoft Office.”
That’s one of the keys to migrating users. Let them see the advantages of FLOSS. I like side-by-side demonstrations. Others make life a little difficult or offer inducements. It’s all good.
- “Our case management system was acquired using a call for tender which stated upfront that the price would have to be below 200,000 euros,” says Lindeboom. “We were actually surprised that some proprietary solutions were being offered, sometimes even for less than half of their ordinary price. But we also got reactions saying that it was absurd and impossible.
This tender was won by zaaksysteem.nl, an open source solution. But if a closed source offer had been a better choice, we would have taken that. We officially prefer open source, and most of us have become open source enthusiasts, but it’s not sacred. We don’t (yet) put OSS-specific properties in the requirements of our tenders; currently, it’s “hidden” in the budget.”
Yes. Using FLOSS is great leverage in negotiations. Demonstrating that you can and will use FLOSS overcomes the lock-in of suppliers. If they want your business they have to compete on price/performance rather than copying from a pricelist.