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Minnesota Moving To Microsoft's Cloud

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-the-twins-with-you dept.

Microsoft 345

An anonymous reader writes "The State of Minnesota is apparently the first state to move into the cloud, agreeing on a deal to have their messaging and collaboration services delivered through Microsoft's Business Online Productivity Suite. The thing the article doesn't tell you in detail is that the agreement precludes the use of open source software, which could have saved the taxpayers millions of dollars. And once such a large organization goes Microsoft, it's difficult to go back. Isn't it interesting that these developments occur right before elections, as senior officials are trying to keep their jobs with a new incoming administration? What do you think, Slashdotters? Is this a good move for Minnesota? Or a conservative move that bucks the trend of saving money and encouraging open government and transparency by aligning philosophy and practice with at least the option of utilizing open source software?"

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345 comments

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773140)

FRIST PSOT!!!!!

Re:FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773148)

Microsoft BOPS... Seriously?

MOST ASININE HEADLINE EVER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773432)

Minnesota cannot 'move'.

Foo (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773154)

I think the summary is the most self-serving OSS trash that I've read here. What guarantee does OSS make that will save taxpayers millions of dollars? The cost of retraining government staff on inferior software? The cost of converting documents to another format and losing formatting? Which one?

Re:Foo (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773214)

What guarantee does OSS make that will save taxpayers millions of dollars?

Just a wild guess, but I'd say that it's because you don't need to pay to use it.

Initial cost is a small piece of the cost (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773258)

You can't just compare the upfront costs. What are the on-going support costs? There's even an open source tool to calculate TCO: http://www.tcotool.org/index_en.html [tcotool.org]

Re:Initial cost is a small piece of the cost (2, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773380)

What are the on-going support costs?

Same reasoning applies: not having to pay for it is cheaper than buying it from a commercial software vendor.

Re:Initial cost is a small piece of the cost (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773392)

Although you're probably an AC Microsoft shill, there's precedent that says that open source systems fail-- see Project Limux that was thwarted in Munich. That said, Minnesota takes a huge chance on untested infrastructure, and indeed binds themselves to Microsoft's hosted products-- when many others might do the job. Let's see how the TCO for taxpayers actually amount to in five years.

Re:Initial cost is a small piece of the cost (1, Troll)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773616)

And who would provide support for the "OSS solution" hmmm? You gonna tell them to RTFM? What FOSS advocates never seem to get is there is a reason why companies like MSFT get these contracts, it is because someone at the MN governor's office can pick up the phone and say "WTF? HELP" and they WILL get support. If fact for a big contract like this they will probably get tier 1 first class "ass kissing and tripping over themselves to try to fix it" level of support, oh and from a SINGLE vendor. With FOSS you are gonna have one vendor for the server, another vendor for the IM and collaborative software (probably Scalix...eeew), yet another for the Office software. Is there any guarantees it'll even work? How much will retraining cost? Or converting their existent infrastructure?

The thing nobody seems to get when they say "just use FOSS" is that the cost of the software is so low as to be inconsequential especially on large scale contracts like this. Often it is the support (can't just send them to a forum!) the cost of retraining and hiring those capable of managing the new system (Linux gurus don't work cheap!) and converting the bazillion Excel macros and specialized apps and other costs that bite you in the ass. That is why companies, and yes governments are companies, even if they are badly run, go for the big guys like Google and MSFT. Because like it or not it is less headache in the long run, as the Swiss found out the hard way.

Re:Initial cost is a small piece of the cost (4, Interesting)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773702)

someone at the MN governor's office can pick up the phone and say "WTF? HELP" and they WILL get support. If fact for a big contract like this they will probably get tier 1 first class "ass kissing and tripping over themselves to try to fix it" level of support, oh and from a SINGLE vendor.

The governor could get better support from his own in-house staff. My employer uses BPOS. We have 20,000 people on it, yet we have terrible support. The state of Minnesota has 36,000 employees. Something tells me the difference is not significant enough to get better support.

Re:Initial cost is a small piece of the cost (4, Funny)

HisMother (413313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773778)

> What FOSS advocates never seem to get is there is a reason why companies like MSFT get these contracts,

Hookers and blow, is what I've heard.

Re:Initial cost is a small piece of the cost (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773828)

The manual is online. Go check if you think I'm lying. Microsoft doesn't sell SKUs with little manuals in them (not that they were worth a crap when they *did*).

Who supports it? The project, or the vendor, or the community associated with the product. OSS or Microsoft, the value is the same save that Microsoft has a formal process that's not worth much in my experience.

I'm not saying that FOSS is the perfect solution for everything. Munich, by the way, is in S Germany, not Switzerland. The reason for its disaster was dogged thwarting (IMHO) after Microsoft very publicly lost the bid there.

Re:Foo (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773364)

It's interesting how you ignored the other points raised, such as retraining staff and converting documents between formats.

Re:Foo (2, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773402)

It's interesting how you ignored the other points raised, such as retraining staff and converting documents between formats.

You mean like training people to use Windows 7? Converting Visual Basic stuff to "dot net"?

Re:Foo (1, Informative)

cjcela (1539859) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773496)

Not to mention that for the same performance, you need three times the hardware to run Windows 7 vs Linux or BSD.

Re:Foo (3, Insightful)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773670)

Windows 7 runs just fine on my old P4 1.6 with 768MB of RAM. And my wife's Atom netbook with a 16GB SSD and 1GB of memory.

I'm not sure your so-called point...

Re:Foo (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773508)

Probably because even if you used Microsoft software in the past, you had to change formats for their own software. Remember when 2007 couldn't open 2003, until all the backlash, then they finally decided to introduce translation. A shame that a government would be shackled to a company known for their insecure software and their greed. But probably that state has too much money, and taxpayers were requesting to have higher taxes.

Re:Foo (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773576)

Remember when 2007 couldn't open 2003, until all the backlash, then they finally decided to introduce translation.

um... This wasn't such a bad thing. Granted I don't know what they changed in the docx format, But for excel 2007 the change was needed. The whole 65000 row limit was a real killer. How did you expect to open the new larger files in 2003?

Re:Foo (1)

d'fim (132296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773802)

WTF?
Yes, the extra functionality would have been a good thing, except all of my Office 2003 users were stuck with non-opening documents.
That's going backwards, not forwards!
So yes, it was in fact "such a bad thing."
Microsoft finally agreed with that point of view; that's why they eventually put out a patch for it.

You don't understand Free Software (4, Insightful)

pikine (771084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773582)

My guess is that the state of Minnesota already has developed custom software in-house that depends on the Microsoft platform. You migrate to a Microsoft cloud if your existing software is already locked into Microsoft platform. That's only natural. At any rate, the whole cloud computing concept is very simple: let someone who is good at running data center do their job.

You could very well argue that redeveloping the software to base on an open-source platform might be a better plan in the long run, and I would tend to agree with that. But the redevelopment will surely cost the state some millions of dollars more in the short run.

You also probably don't realize that software costs money to develop. Even when the software is offered to you for free, someone, somewhere is paying for it. That's because someone has to spend time doing something. In order to sustain the livelihood, that person needs to eat, drink, pay rent, and once in a while use medical help. When software gets open sourced, the person is donating his time and effort and has absorbed the cost of writing the software.

And don't forget that free software is not really about the cost. It's about the freedom to learn from the software, to modify the software, and to distribute your modifications.

Re:Foo (3, Informative)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773656)

You do need to pay to get support. There is absolutely no way any corporation, including the government, would ever run business critical apps without support. Get real.

Re:Foo (1, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773756)

Funny, but the only thing I pay RedHat for per-server? Seems to be just for access to patches and updates. I've honestly never had to call their support line in the 4+ years that I've been using RHEL professionally.

Microsoft OTOH had been a near-constant companion last year during the install of the travesties that are SCOM and SCCM - and most professional MCSE types I know of have had to do the same. Even called 'em up a couple of times back when Exchange 2007 first came out.

So, at least in my own experience, Microsoft has been a pricier support and maintenance proposition (on the enterprise level, anyhoo) than Linux has been.

Re:Foo (4, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773262)

Probably less than the cost of being locked into no-shop clauses in an MS agreement.

Such a non-compete clause is most likely an anti-trust violation if TFS is correct.

Re:Foo (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773334)

The cost of retraining government staff on inferior software?

Aren't they doing that with Vista/Win7/Ribbons anyway?

Re:Foo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773834)

> I think the summary is the most self-serving OSS trash that I've read here.

I think most of trash here these days is proprietary; I long for the past days when trash was exclusively OSS.

> What guarantee does OSS make that will save taxpayers millions of dollars?

Is this all that matters? Coincidentally, I work for an (undisclosed) government agency. Part of our responsibilities is storing people's data. Any data leak and we're in for serious prosecution. I simply cannot imagine transferring such responsibility to a private entity. Lawsuits will pop like, well, popcorn.

But it is possible to hold a cloud inside our Secretary. That would do. Except things would go like molasses on a cold day -- mainly because we contract bandwidth and then we have distances that span thousands of kilometers / miles.

> The cost of retraining government staff on inferior software?

You're kidding, right? I had to install Vim recently because of those two jewels called Notepad and Wordpad (no, Word was out of question in this case: I really needed a text editor, not a document processor).

Not to mention Firefox x IE; PDF Creator x Acrobat; Gimp x Nothing (because we can't just buy); Thunderbird x Outlook (which is a joke), LibreOffice (good enough 90% of times) x Office, etc. etc. etc.

Default Windows software is just a waste of public resources IMHO and are characteristic of an administration not interested in saving funds.

Besides, we retrain every year on the same proprietary software, because Windows must mutate to keep selling. So, there's no difference in training expenditure.

> The cost of converting documents to another format and losing formatting?

Not converting documents will prove costlier in the long term, for sure. Let's see where is Microsoft, 10 years from now.

I hope people who choose Microsoft get the same fate the one in London Stock Exchange got.

We see what you did there... (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773158)

Summary:

And once such a large organization goes Microsoft, it's difficult to go back.

You need a large, thick, vertically and horizontally integrated businesses to handle large customers. But actually, unbeknownst to you, the average person has been going Microsoft for much larger, er, longer than you realize. Imagine the confusion that would ensue from switching to Linux - a Windows user who is used to tasks being performed for them on the bottom of their desktop may find themselves confused that the tasks are all on the top and they have to do much more work themselves.

Is that you, Mr. Ballmer? (1, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773546)

a Windows user who is used to tasks being performed for them on the bottom of their desktop may find themselves confused that the tasks are all on the top and they have to do much more work themselves.

I started using Linux in 1995 and have been using it almost exclusively since 1998.

What confuses me every time I try to use Windows is how many tasks I have to do on the top of the desktop that Linux does for me automatically without any intervention from me.

Linux just works, Windows is continuously asking me to do something.

Linux is the lover from your daydreams, Windows is the nagging wife from your reality.

The difference is that in the software world dreams can become reality.

Re:Is that you, Mr. Ballmer? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773686)

What confuses me every time I try to use Windows is how many tasks I have to do on the top of the desktop that Linux does for me automatically without any intervention from me.

Name a few, name three. Three examples from your claim of "how many tasks" should be easy enough, right?

Re:Is that you, Mr. Ballmer? (1)

druke (1576491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773744)

Updates all software. (any distro with repositories) Sanely configured user accounts (UAC is leaps and bounds, though) Sets up wifi/ethernet stuff (without having to go online for the drivers) sftp access, ssh for that matter I don't have to start IE up that one time to go grab Firefox/chrome. Also my linux desktop doesn't set my background black and constantly tell met hat my windows copy may not be genuine...

Re:Is that you, Mr. Ballmer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773772)

Name a few, name three.

Agreed. I don't understand how Windows doesn't work for some folks. I ask and ask but I never hear how they are able to break it. Windows 7 isn't much more difficult than choosing where to install it and waiting for it to finish. When it is you have a fully functional install of Windows. I honestly don't see where the confusion or hardships come in.

Re:Is that you, Mr. Ballmer? (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773840)

Three examples from your claim of "how many tasks" should be easy enough, right?

1) Installing the system cleanly in one stretch without rebooting
2) Having working hardware without resorting to CDs (so many notebooks don't have CD drives these days) or downloading drivers
3) Playing media in less common formats, such as Matroska for instance, right from the start in a default installation
4) Having a fully working usable system from the start, without having to hunt for applications after you install the operating system
5) A repository of software where you can easily search for the functions you need and install them with a single click of the mouse
6) A "start" menu organized in a functional hierarchy instead of by software vendor
7) ...

Oh, wait, you only asked for three examples.

Re:Is that you, Mr. Ballmer? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773812)

Indeed, most people don't use things which really require Windows or even OSX to work. Email and web browsing really don't require Windows, and tend to work better when you're not.

It's pretty much just the people that are stuck for one reason or another using a proprietary program which only supports Windows that are stuck. Although, not as much as in the past, given virtualization and Wine.

Worthless summary (1, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773162)

TFA:

Because of the initial move to consolidate on Microsoft systems, the cloud migration will be virtually seamless to employees, Minnesota officials said.

Officials said the state did not seek bids, or requests for proposals, for a cloud computing system as Microsoft hosted suite was already a standard part of the earlier large licensing contract signed to consolidate the messaging systems.

How could switching to an entirely incompatible platform have saved taxpayers millions?

Re:Worthless summary (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773284)

How could switching to an entirely incompatible platform have saved taxpayers millions?

I'm sure you're just trolling and I'm going to look silly for biting, but OBVIOUSLY it saves money because none of the staff would know how to use Linux so they'd all leave to get other jobs and you'd save millions by not replacing them.

Re:Worthless summary (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773314)

If you RTFA, they are switching from existing Novell and Exchange Servers and consolidating to Exchange. Moving from on-premise to the cloud for Exchange should be seamless and reduce the cost of local administration and on-going hardware maintenance and software patching.

Re:Worthless summary (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773784)

If you RTFA, they are switching from existing Novell and Exchange Servers and consolidating to Exchange.

That's the reasonable part...

Moving from on-premise to the cloud for Exchange should be seamless and reduce the cost of local administration and on-going hardware maintenance and software patching.

In this context, what exactly does "cloud" mean?

Re:Worthless summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773328)

You see Ms. Rings, may I call you Peach? ok, sorry.

You see Ms. Rings, everything can be explain by the following graphs:

Our competitor's prices over the long term: http://egenerationmarketing.com/images/graph.JPG

Our prices over the long term: http://whatisgeo.com/wp-content/uploads/39240-DownGraph.jpg

I'm glad I could answer all of your question.

Re:Worthless summary (0, Flamebait)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773384)

In the submitter's blind emotion, they ignored the actual facts of the situation. Expect a bunch of Microsoft-bashing posts to follow, with most of them not reading the article or seeing your post. Nope, it's more important to have biased garbage like what we got in the article summary.

Re:Worthless summary (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773830)

Indeed, what the summary failed to point out is that they were already stuck with MS services as they had already agreed to consolidate with MS services. This was a move pretty much just to deal with the hardware requirements.

That's Life (1, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773176)

People are used to microsoft. Its a recognised brand name - irrelevant of how good/bad it is.

If a leader decides that their underlings will use this 'new-fangled' leenux instead of what everyone else always uses, people get scared of the change and react badly to it.

Even trying to explain to my sister why she should give Ubuntu a try was a problem for me, let alone trying to get a large group of (non-techy) people to make the switch.

Then once the smallest problem crops up, people would go "Why did you switch to such a rubbish system? We should have gone Microsoft" - again irrelevant of the change in problem amount.

Re:That's Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773212)

There is basically 2 choices. "Safe" microsoft or going with alternative. Alternative at this time is Google. Google cannot really compete with Microsoft in this area, yet.

Re:That's Life (4, Insightful)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773224)

Then once the smallest problem crops up, people would go "Why did you switch to such a rubbish system? We should have gone Microsoft" - again irrelevant of the change in problem amount.

Use MS software, and your boss will see it as MS's fault when it breaks. Use alternatives, and it'll be your fault. It's the 21st century analogue of "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".

Re:That's Life (2, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773548)

In general, you're correct. But here we're talking about civil servants, who never get fired for anything short of criminal malfeasance.

This is the Cloud space we're talking about (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773282)

While those are valid points, we're talking about a cloud here. You don't see what OS you're dealing with if you don't want to.

For example, take salesforce.com. That is entirely based upon RedHat Enterprise Linux. It used to be Solaris/Sparc, but they found that x86 was much cheaper. They serve 88,000 companies with 1,500 Dom0 servers. And the cool thing is that they've integrated mobile devices (phone and pads) with their cloud. So you can handle your apps from your office PC, or smart mobile system. That's one heck of a competitive advantage for businesses.

And the funny thing is that I had a debate recently with a rapid Microsoft zealot who gave me the usual (outdated) MS hype about how Linux was a rip-off of UNIX, yada, yada. He was also a solid zealot for salesforce.com. He shut up after I mentioned that salesforce.com was a Linux shop, and his beloved tech was running on Linux.

The numbers above come from a recent RedHat dog-and-pony show about their new Cloud technology. They trotted out a guy from salesforce.com, and these are the numbers that he gave.

Now, I'm wondering where that leaves Suse and Ubuntu in the Cloud space. They can do like RedHat and hire Wipro to write their semi-proprietary Cloud stack. Or they can go with Open Stack and give NASA and Rackspace a hand with their Open Source Cloud.

Re:That's Life (1)

cpankonien (964575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773358)

here's my answer to the employees... "want to keep your job? learn this new stuff. if you can't learn the new stuff, i'm sure i can find someone who can."

I wonder (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773552)

would we see an apple backed state, or even an ubuntu one?

Re:That's Life (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773724)

People are used to microsoft. Its a recognised brand name - irrelevant of how good/bad it is.

.
Hopefully (and based upon current events, they are not) the people running IT in the great State of Minnesota are more aware of the pitfalls of partnering with Microsoft.

Re:That's Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773788)

Good points, but the few non technical, but smart, users I've help get set up on Ubuntu have been very happy. One of them was recently debating iPhone versus android phone (I prefer the iPhone), as soon as I mentioned that android was based on Linux, he immediately made up his mind, bought an android phone three days later.

DiNiro said it best in Ronin (2, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773190)

"lady, I never go into any place I can't get out of"

The cloud is a great idea combined with standard formats for data (XML, whatever). IT overhead is a headache. Running servers is a pain.

The data is the important thing, not how it's manipulated. This point needs to be beaten into people.

If you're foolish enough to move into a third party cloud without standardized data formats.. or a way to get out..

You'll wish being ambushed in a bar by spies was the worst thing that could happen :)

To ensure the privacy of state government data, (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773312)

Parent wrote:

The data is the important thing, not how it's manipulated. This point needs to be beaten into people.

FTFA:

To ensure the privacy of state government data, BPOS applications for the State of Minnesota will be housed in a dedicated Microsoft environment and delivered online

Am I the only one who sees a basic incompatibility here?

Also, the original poster is wrong - if you can't manipulate the data, it's pretty much useless except to historians. You might as well store it on microfiche and lock it in a vault.

Re:DiNiro said it best in Ronin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773326)

DiNiro said it best in Ronin

But what the fuck was in that suitcase?!

Re:DiNiro said it best in Ronin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773532)

A Macguffin

What does that mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773226)

"The thing the article doesn't tell you in detail is that the agreement precludes the use of open source software, which could have saved the taxpayers millions of dollars"

There are so many things wrong with that sentence that i don't know where to start. Open source "Free" does not mean money saved.

Re:What does that mean? (1, Informative)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773408)

okay lets try this
N copies of OSS software = 0
Nmillion copies of OSS software = 0
N Billion copies of OSS software = 0
Cost for Required conversion to OSS format = 0 (there is no cost unless you really want to)
training and support for new programs = Unknown since it depends on if you do a FLAG DAY type cutover
Cost to recover from virus/worm/X-ware related shutdowns = 0 once you have a complete LINUX setup
hardware cost to update your systems as required = most likely 0 unless you are already due for a refresh cycle

"is this a good move for minnasota?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773228)

Obviously not.

The thing the article doesn't tell you in detail.. (5, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773234)

The thing the article doesn't tell you in detail is that the agreement precludes the use of open source software, which could have saved the taxpayers millions of dollars.

Before I saddle up the war horses, can you provide a citation?

This is a serious allegation; tying arrangements are dangerously prosecutable under antitrust laws, as Microsoft should remember.

Re:The thing the article doesn't tell you in detai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773518)

Agreed, but easy for me to believe. Microsoft remembers, but just doesn't care. What is the government going to do? Ask them to think of their own punishment again? Boo-hoo.

Corrupt Slimy Leadership. I live here. (3, Interesting)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773842)

It does not surprise me one bit. Our Governor is a slime who only about 1/3 support and many of those only because of his party affiliation. (3rd parties upset results often here.) He's been doing the whole "no new taxes" thing for his whole term and its only ended up hurting us as well as word games where they actually raised taxes in other ways. Then we have our ROADS -- that bridge that fell down was ours -- which took a voter initiative to get the road funds used ON ROADS! (before the bridge fell, but not fast enough... the bridge fell while they were fixing it.) I wouldn't be surprised if MS bought his support since he wants to run for President or VP.

I used to know a state IT guy - a unix guru. You can be assured that they have some great experts for intelligent planning who were not the deciding factor. I will have to reach him and see if they cut his job since he did do some email servers among the 100s he managed.

Re:The thing the article doesn't tell you in detai (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773848)

If you read the article, the agreement with Amazon says no such thing. The state had previously agreed to use MS for all their messaging needs.

Source article from the summary [computerworld.com]

Officials said the state did not seek bids, or requests for proposals, for a cloud computing system as Microsoft hosted suite was already a standard part of the earlier large licensing contract signed to consolidate the messaging systems.

Cost is for hosted service more than software? (1)

therealmorris (1366945) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773240)

Surely the real cost they're paying here is for the "cloud services", and so the price would be similar whether or not the software behind it is OSS or not? Or is the argument just anti-MS really? It sounds like there's some saving from a previous move to MS Exchange and the licensing deal from that as well though.

Re:Cost is for hosted service more than software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773268)

Microsoft hosted suite was already a standard part of the earlier large licensing contract

What do you think, Slashdotters? (5, Insightful)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773246)

What do you think, Slashdotters? Is this a good move for Minnesota?

Hmmmm... I've studied the data carefully and considered the pros and cons, taking account of the prevailing trends and allowing for all the variables. Based on my analysis I predict that the Slashdot consensus will be that going all Microsoft is not a good move.

Re:What do you think, Slashdotters? (1)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773300)

You have extraordinary powers. Can you tell me lottery numbers?

Re:What do you think, Slashdotters? (3, Funny)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773360)

You have extraordinary powers. Can you tell me lottery numbers?

Easily. The numbers are:

      01
      05
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Now all you have to do for a guaranteed win is to pick the right lottery and the right draw date.

I smell a lawsuit (2, Insightful)

micromegas (536234) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773264)

I'm from Duluth, MN and I say GACK! At one point, there was a state legislator who attempted to set into law, open document formats. Black suits showed up and ......bzzzzt! But really, does this mean I have to now own proprietary applications to view public documents? Thanks for so much you've left us Pawlenty.

Re:I smell a lawsuit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773352)

"...does this mean I have to now own proprietary applications to view public documents?"

the only valid point so far in this thread.

Re:I smell a lawsuit (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773386)

not really what are these propietary applications? word files? pdf's?

heh I have to use openoffice at work to open ms word files ms word cant read, I think for the most part we will be safe (for now)

Re:I smell a lawsuit (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773596)

This.

I've in fact entirely given up on MS office except for the odd occasion someone decides to throw a power point presentation my way(far, far too often)

Re:I smell a lawsuit (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773626)

Well, since the data will be in the cloud, perhaps the documents would be available on the web?

Better Summary & Submission (0, Offtopic)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773278)

http://slashdot.org/submission/1347764/Minnesota-first-US-State-to-sell-soul [slashdot.org]

Really makes us Microsoft Haters feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

Ha Ha Ha

Re:Better Summary & Submission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773634)

Once you go black you don't go back. Not because you don't want to but because white men don't want you anymore. It's funny/awful because it's true.

Bad move for Minnesota (5, Insightful)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773324)

A few years ago Minnesota was looking at mandating open standards for all government operations. Now they have taken a huge step towards vendor lock-in. This move will lock up Minnesota's history for decades to come. At the same time it will make the state's operations far less reliable.

The article comments that Minnesota is switching over to something businesses have found great success in for years. As someone that has to use BPOS at work I must say the system is incredibly unreliable. We have had email simply disappear into a void. The service is slow. It frequently stops working for hours at a time. We have had other email delivered hours after it was sent.

We had to disable rather important functionality in order to migrate over to BPOS as we are not allowed to customize anything. Now we have users doing things by hand which used to be automated.

Before we switched over to BPOS I considered email as trustworthy and reliable as most utilities. My employer has structured the company with the assumption that email will be a reliable communications medium. With BPOS in place it is a burden on our organization.

Re:Bad move for Minnesota (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773610)

There must be a similar system handling my SMS right now. Some stuff disappears into the void, and I've gotten stuff I thought was gone into the void that someone told me about after they sent it a month or so after the fact.

An idiot wrote TFS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773332)

Is this a good move for Minnesota? Or a conservative move that bucks the trend of saving money and encouraging open government and transparency by aligning philosophy and practice with at least the option of utilizing open source software?

Whoever wrote the TFS doesn't fucking live in Minnesota, that's pretty certain. The DFL has run Minnesota for the past eon. If anything, this would be a LIBERAL move that bucks the trend of saving money, which is quite expected.

Ever hear of Hubert H. Humphrey? Yeah, guess where he came from...

Re:An idiot wrote TFS (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773400)

yeah right.

i'm sure tim pawlenty (whose claim on history will be having given minnesota's infrastucture budget to his rich pals in the form of high-bracket tax reductions - with predictable impact on, particularly, the I-35 bridge) and michelle bachmann are more than happy at your retconning of history.

hubert fucking humphrey? from the 1960's? you asshat.

Minnesota Values... (1)

ncgnu08 (1307339) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773350)

Hmm... seems strange that this is also the home of Michele Bachmann, who is very outspoken about "wasteful government spending" and a proponent of small government (http://www.michelebachmann.com/about/). This seems to go against those values and her push to keep jobs local and create jobs locally. However it does seem to fit with her less spoken about ideas of privatizing everything. I wonder if we should be drawing any conclusions from the fact, or coincidence, she sits on the Financial Services Committee. I would think once one state goes this route, others will follow suit. I can also see how having all of your data saved in the cloud (we aren't responsible for it) would be in the interest of any generic banking institution. Also, not having an open source platform could make transparency much more difficult, not that government or banking institutions would ever want to hide anything!

Re:Minnesota Values... (4, Insightful)

Matheus (586080) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773486)

Excuse me? Please do not relate any of Minnesota's Values to Michelle Bachmann. She is the worst kind of politician who has no intelligence what-so-ever. She continues to be elected by an extremely gerrymandered district that has had no real competition on the right and wouldn't elect someone from the left unless literally directly paid to do so. Minnesota aside, any words that come from her mouth have a tendency to be as hollow as her head and can not be trusted. She is an agitator and a crowd pleaser who we can only hope will somehow manage to lose an election so she can go wallow with her tea party friends somewhere outside of our state. She may make her direct electors proud but the rest (majority) of the state laughs at them and are embarrassed to be represented by her.

Re:Minnesota Values... (2, Insightful)

micromegas (536234) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773750)

Bachmann isn't from Minnesota, she's from inside Glenn Beck's Love Boat fantasy.

Re:Minnesota Values... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773782)

Too bad you idiots keep electing her, then, eh?

Re:Minnesota Values... (2, Informative)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773796)

As a Minnesotan I too am dismayed that we would be leading this transition. No matter what the proposed savings might be, it will certainly cost money in the short term. We don't have any money, but a $4B hole in the budget to fill for the next biennium. Recently we had some flooding in the southern part of the state, and it looks like we will have to borrow money to cover any aide we might want to spend on this emergency. Let some other state be the guinea pigs and see if the savings pan out. By then the economy might recover and we can get competitive bids for the services offered. Like many fads in IT or business (anyone remember Six Sigma) it does not pay to be the first on your block adopting the fad.

Wow - two totally separate things (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773354)

Using OSS and having transparent government have NOTHING to do with each other, unless you are counting on everyone's ability to hack into the OSS and see every detail of how all government agencies are working. At which point, the entire state would collapse into a coma from the sheer boredom of it all. Second point - whether or not the state saves money is not really a function of what the software costs. Ongoing maintenance and staff support time will dwarf that figure.

It's all the same even for alternatives (0, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773394)

That is unless someone cal tell me how a move to an [open source alternative] would be better. Even these OSS alternatives have to be supported. The last time I checked, their support was anemic! Just ask the University of California [mashable.com].

Re:It's all the same even for alternatives (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773564)

I worked for a startup that used branded google services for email, instant messaging and calendar. It worked pretty well. Not sure how the cost worked out, but it was certainly less headache than maintaining our own mail server. Especially since we didn't have a dedicated IT person.

Re:It's all the same even for alternatives (2, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773820)

We have a managed dedicated server from Pair Networks that handles our company websites and email. (We have a few more that handle our E-commerce Platform). We access our email through IMAP with Mac Mail, iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Outlook, and thunderbird. We looked at Google apps and the dedicated server was cheaper for our company (4 full-time, 6 part-time employees). Two years and we've not had any noticeable problems. I think I had to call tech support once to get the machine reset that took a whole of 5 minutes on the phone from the time I dialed until the server was rebooted and working again.

Re:It's all the same even for alternatives (2, Interesting)

gagol (583737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773838)

I ised to do IT support when I was graphic designer for a very small firm (3-10 employees depending of the needs). We had our very own Exchange server, but only the boss used the calendar and contact features. When our server finally crashed, we outsourced our Exchange services for our one boss for a couple bucks a months, outsourced web servers to a datacenter for peanuts a month, including backups and kept our big fat pipe to ourselves. It made my life easier, saved the company the support budget and made our one server more efficient to serve our big fat multimedia files and daily backups. The exchange server relied on a different domain, but that was the only inconvenience...

Ugh, I unfortunately am a Minnesotan. (3, Insightful)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773424)

I guess this news should have floored me but it doesn't. We have an entrenched administration that has the mantra "No new taxes" which has a nice sounding ring to it but the result has been less pretty (like a major interstate bridge that just decided to fall into the Mississippi river). I was drivng down the freeway today and the truck was bouncing around so badly I had to slow down (and I was not speeding).

How does all this relate to moving to the Microsoft cloud? I am sure the state is getting a low cost price to get them in the door. Once hooked the price will go up and it will need to be paid and some other service will be asked to do more with less. Maybe the old lady in the nursing home will have to cut back on someting like drugs or catheters. Maybe a school will have to put off buying science textbooks (for the tenth year in a row).

Re:Ugh, I unfortunately am a Minnesotan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773678)

We have an entrenched administration that has the mantra "No new taxes" which has a nice sounding ring to it but the result has been less pretty (like a major interstate bridge that just decided to fall into the Mississippi river)

Oh I know, it's terrible. If only we'd raised taxes we could fund a time machine to go back in time and redesign that bridge so it wouldn't fail.

Jesus (-1, Flamebait)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773442)

I would as soon use Microsoft as brush my teeth with a tube of dog poo. And these crazy types of agreements where someone must swear not to ever use open source products in order to pay money for Micropoop products are a great example of why I feel this way. Really, someone needs to be lynched. When citizens hear of this sort of rank, stinking, rotten corruption it really is time to get some rope and hang people.

Fat and stupid (0)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773456)

An American guy i know says Americans are getting fatter and stupider every year... I guess that's one small step for Minnesota, one giant fat and stupid for Minnesotans (Minnesotians? Minne-idiots?)

the thing the summary doesn't tell you... (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773524)

rather than distributing less money to utilize an open source infrastructure that is provided as is with no guarantees, distributing millions of dollars through a responsibly insured bureaucracy will create more jobs... something the notably numerable members of the class of the unemployed are "pushing the big red button" for this election season.

Silver lining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773614)

There isn't one. Minnesota is gonna get fucked in the pooper on this one.

Begs the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773676)

Will it have a dome?

They who control the information... (1)

novar21 (1694492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773700)

control society. Why are they allowing a private entity (non government) control of the publics information? The public (and maybe the State) will not have access to public information. What is the process for a FOIA now? The State has to ask Microsoft for the information? On a different angle, Microsoft is not known for properly backing up information. What guarantees are Microsoft making for good backup and accurate restores? What guarantees are in place to protect the private citizens information from Microsoft or others? Just look at what Grumman did to West Virginia. The State was down for over a week. This whole thing is very bad. Leave government IT functions to government employees. Otherwise your handing over your government to corporations. Corporations that hold government contracts are seldom audited, as opposed to government entities which are audited at least annually.

Consider (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33773736)

Many government services need to be up nearly 24/7. Government employees are not paid well and their resources are nothing like those in the private sector. I speak from experience here.

It's nice and all to say that they should be using OSS, but really? Data centers are expensive. So flamebaity as the OP was, consider:

1) government entities need to invest in a really good database platform with upper echelon support and training options, as well as with a large community of mercenary experts you could bring in from anywhere in an emergency. SLAs for the government don't just lose money; you're talking about public safety departments, state/local/federal requirements for information access, etc. Waiting for forum answers is frequently not an option.

2) having employees with deeply technical skill sets and loads of experience is going to be hard; keeping them for any length of time is going to be harder. You are going to offer very little in terms of salary for doing actual work; benefits are good, but they really only matter if you're still relatively young career-wise. 25-year retirement plans don't matter if you have 20 years of experience already. Government employees also jump between positions a lot. This means the guy who developed an app might then become a sysadmin, then he might move to the HR department, then go work for the Clerk. You really don't get to call him in when there's an emergency. It's not his job and it's not his responsibility. That boundary is a requirement in government shops for liability positions. So that personal knowledge base is going to get flushed very frequently.

3) government IT supports dozens to hundreds of apps. Jails, fire departments, municipal services, judicial services and records, clerk apps (for elections and public record retention), public safety offices, tax information, property information, GIS and spatial databases for land parcels and property value assessment, not to mention any random social programs you have going on like substance abuse programs, public health departments, transportation bureaus, etc. If you think you're managing all of that on mysql, you're absolutely insane.

4) in-house development, while nice, tends to be impractical for anything that rates higher than "minor". You don't generally have career systems analysts who built the inmate tracking system from the ground up and documented their vast knowledge. These apps and their databases get absolutely massive, and between elected officials, turnover, and the frequency with which government employees tend to switch positions (to get promotions and earn more money, since merit raises are incredibly rare), having such monsters is a tremendous liability.

This is an area where OSS has yet to prove a good fit. Here and there it is an excellent solution; as a cover-all it is a terrible one. The OSS community is good, but Oracle and Microsoft answer their phones 24/7, and allow 15-minute MTTA SLAs to exist. Which, you know...is legally required in some places.

What the hell..... (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773762)

I read the article and Minnesota is moving their Email from several different platforms over to Exchange. Or in this case, exchange managed by MS, "aka the cloud". And I can see where this will save them money from having to support GroupWare, Lotus, and Exchange like they currently are and for large organizations, there isn't anything in the Opensource world that can compete with Exchange.

I guess Minnesota will be the next California... (1)

zkiwi34 (974563) | more than 3 years ago | (#33773776)

A totally screwed state. After all, it's not as though BPOS is renowned for its reliability, and for that matter since when was it a clever idea for a state to go to relatively bleeding edge tech.

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