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How Munich Abandoned Microsoft for Open Source

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the clippy-ist-verboten dept.

Open Source 294

An anonymous reader writes "TechRepublic has the story behind Munich City Council's decision to ditch Microsoft Windows and Office in favor of open source software. The project leader talks about why the shift was primarily about freedom, in this case freeing itself from being tied into Microsoft's infrastructure and having control over the software it uses. He talks about how the council managed to keep such a large project on track, despite affecting 15,000 people and spanning nine years. He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail."

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294 comments

bribery (2, Interesting)

slartibartfastatp (613727) | about 5 months ago | (#45465779)

The question is, how they managed to do this despite of Microsoft Economical Power. How they avoided bribery of the involved politicians?

Re:bribery (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466045)

The question is, how they managed to do this despite of Microsoft Economical Power. How they avoided bribery of the involved politicians?

Countered with photos of the politicians with young Nazi boys?

What?! You started it!

Re:bribery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466171)

Bribery is illegal so it would be unlikely to hit it.

Re:bribery (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466913)

Bribery is illegal

Many forms of bribery are legal, Gerhard Schröder (former Chancellor of Germany) retired to a managing position at Gazprom after ensuring it would be the main provider of gas for Europe for the near future and the whole FDP received millions in donations for supporting tax reductions favouring the hotel and gastronomic industries. Both lost a lot of political trust and nothing else, Gerhard Schröder pulled it before retiring so he does not care, the FDP already thin on substance got voted out of parliament on the last election, which means they got to stay in power for years after pulling that stunt and only barely missed the 5% requirement for participation. No punishments where handed out by the government and what could it have punished with everything being "legal"? Politicians write the laws and the laws regarding politicians tend to favour them and their alternative money sources, you are not a career politician in Germany unless you have at least one lucrative non descriptive position in the industry.

Re:bribery (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#45466213)

Germany apparently isn't completely rife with corruption, unlike the United States. That's how.

Re: bribery (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466461)

That is actually a major proof of the low corruption in Bavaria.

Re:bribery (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466341)

The question is, how they managed to do this despite of Microsoft Economical Power. How they avoided bribery of the involved politicians?

You're looking at a cultural decision, not a political decision. RTFA.

"If you are only doing a migration because you think it saves you money there's always somebody who tells you afterwards that you didn't calculate it properly," he said.

and a little further down:

Munich is used to forging its own path. The city runs its own schools and is one of the few socialist, rather than conservative governments, in Bavaria.

Peter Hofmann speaks about Munich's open source migration at the Linux Tag conference in Berlin. Becoming independent meant Munich freeing itself from closed, proprietary software, more specifically the Microsoft Windows NT operating system and the Microsoft Office suite, and a host of other locked-down technologies the city relied on in 2002

Even Ballmer took time from his Winter chair-throwing training to go speak with gov officials. Knowing that the words "do not lose to Linux" were said, you can be damn sure he tried everything from price cuts to hookers and drugs*. (*hookers and drugs not available in all areas, some restrictions may apply)

Re:bribery (5, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 months ago | (#45467093)

Seems that in Germany bribery is outlawed instead of renamed to "lobbying" as in other countries.

Let me guess (-1, Troll)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#45465783)

They will shit their pants when they see the open office suite completely messing the layout of the documents.

Re:Let me guess (0)

shentino (1139071) | about 5 months ago | (#45465819)

It's easy to win if you can cheat and get away with it.

Microsoft is renowned for anticompetitive tactics and I think it was even caught using secret APIs to give its own software a competitive advantage on its system.

Re:Let me guess (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | about 5 months ago | (#45465995)

I think you are thinking about the Exchange server filesystem api. for exchange server 2003 and performance reasons exchange would replace the file system io with a special customized for exchange version. A few competitors complained that this was unfair, i think the final verdict was if they wanted "fair" they where free to write their own drop in replacement for the filesystem i/o

Re:Let me guess (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 months ago | (#45466071)

That is my question... how does a large organization like a German city function without Exchange or being beholden to a SaaS for E-mail and other items? Some larger organizations (IBM) have their own infrastructure, but for a lot of things, Exchange is the only game in town once a place expands beyond what a single mail server can handle.

Is there a reputable F/OSS utility that is a drop-in replacement for Exchange (especially with dealing with multiple mail databases and e-Discovery rules) that has "earned its bones" in the enterprise? I've read about a few, but after a few months, they seem to drop off the planet, or get very poor reviews.

Re:Let me guess (2)

Amouth (879122) | about 5 months ago | (#45466367)

I've only found a few with the same functionality as exchange, and i can say that they are not free. while they have "community" versions, to get full exchange functionality you end up having to pay licencing fees to access and use it, and in the end it is borderline cost effective vs exchange. (yes the licenses are cheaper but support and experienced techs aren't)

Re:Let me guess (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#45466557)

Exchange may, to the end user, do what it does well, but i can tell you right now the Exchange 2010 server I just installed is likely to be the last one. What a fucking nightmare. I'm so tired of installing groupware that is nothing more than a badly stitched together bunch of spare parts where every solution to a problem seems to involve uninstalling and reinstalling IIS, and praying to the Web Server Gods that your partially malfunctioning mail server doesn't completely crap out. Everything about Exchange is fucking awful, and if there are any Redmond engineers or programmers reading this, all I can say to you is that I hope you die of awful awful diseases.

It's fucking ludicrous how bad Exchange is, how resource hungry it can be, and how simple fucking things like setting up a fucking mailing list or putting in some decent anti-spam tech (which doesn't amount to a rolled up version of SpamAssassin with some proprietary web pages and costs a bazillion dollars a seat) turns into a fucking nightmare. Fuck I hate Exchange. Hate it... hate it... hate it... hate it.

Re:Let me guess (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 months ago | (#45466105)

There were patches scattered throughout the Windows 2000 source code leak [slashdot.org] , all with comments along the lines of "Putting this in for the Office team". That was one of the big discussions around here back in the day when that story broke.

The GP is probably taking it to far saying they were doing it for deliberate competitive advantage -- all of the comments that I read sounded like standard bug-fixes -- but it's hard to dispute that Microsoft obviously has an advantage over Libre Office when trying to track down bugs in the O/S that cause problems with the office suite.

Re:Let me guess (5, Interesting)

wumbler (3428467) | about 5 months ago | (#45466203)

Many years ago - maybe in 1995 or 1996 - I worked on a team that wrote a load balancing software. We did some in-depth performance measurements of a few web servers, which also included web servers running on Windows NT. We finally also wrote our own little test server. We concluded in our tests that the listen-queue length on NT could only be set to a certain maximum amount (maybe 5, or so) by anyone using the official socket API that was available. However, magically, Microsoft's own web server (IIS) was able to utilize a longer listen queue.

Clearly, Microsoft is not beyond using secret APIs to ensure a competitive advantage for their own software.

Re:Let me guess (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45467131)

I get the frustration but if you have ever designed an API which can be used by thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of developers with different level of competence, you would think very carefully about this number. While I am not a fan of Microsoft (I do not own a single computer running a Microsoft OS and I have quite a few computers) , I feel confident saying that the quality of developers building their IIS core was certainly way better than an average developer found in the wild. I can easily think of another criticism if they did allow higher numbers - that they do not know how to design public APIs for use by typical developers.

Re:Let me guess (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465877)

Boston-based Cabot Corporation, the second largest carbon black manufacturer in the United States, has agreed to pay a $975,000 civil penalty and spend an estimated $84 million on state of the art technology to control harmful air pollution, resolving alleged violations of the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its three facilities in the towns of Franklin and Ville Platte, La. and Pampa, Texas, announced the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today. This agreement is the first to result from a national enforcement initiative aimed at bringing carbon black manufacturers into compliance with the CAA’s NSR provisions.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is a co-plaintiff in the case and will receive $292,500 of the penalty.

“With today’s commitment to invest in pollution controls, Cabot has raised the industry standard for environmental protection,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These upgrades will have lasting, tangible impacts on improved respiratory health for local communities. We expect others in the industry to take notice and realize their obligation to protect the communities in which they operate.”

“By agreeing to pay an appropriate penalty and install state of the art technology to control harmful air pollution, Cabot Corp is taking a positive step forward to address these significant violations of the Clean Air Act,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This agreement will serve as a model for how the industry can come into compliance with the Clean Air Act by installing controls that prevent harmful pollution and improve air quality for surrounding communities.”

“This is a huge win for the citizens of our district,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley. “These harmful pollutants can cause serious, long-term respiratory harm. The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to the enforcement of the environmental laws and protection of the community. This settlement promotes a healthier environment and an opportunity to allow the residents of the district to breathe cleaner air.”

At all three facilities, the settlement requires that Cabot optimize existing controls for particulate matter or soot, operate an “early warning” detection system that will alert facility operators to any particulate matter releases, and comply with a plan to control “fugitive emissions” which result from leaks or unintended releases of gases. To address nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, Cabot must install selective catalytic reduction technology to significantly reduce emissions, install continuous monitoring, and comply with stringent limits. At the two larger facilities in Louisiana, Cabot must address sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution by installing wet gas scrubbers to control emissions, install continuous monitoring, and comply with stringent emissions limits. In addition, the Texas facility is required to comply with a limit on the amount of sulfur in feedstock which is the lowest for any carbon black plant in the United States.

These measures are expected to reduce NOx emissions by approximately 1,975 tons per year, SO2 emissions by approximately 12,380 tons per year, and significantly improve existing particulate matter controls. Exposure to NOx emissions can cause severe respiratory problems and contribute to childhood asthma. SO2 and NOx can be converted to fine particulate matter once released in the air. Fine particulates can be breathed in and lodged deep in the lungs, leading to a variety of health problems and even premature death. The harmful health and environmental impacts from these pollutants can occur near the facilities as well as in communities far downwind from the plants.

In the complaint filed by DOJ on behalf of EPA, the government alleged that between 2003 and 2009, Cabot made major modifications at its carbon black facilities without obtaining pre-construction permits and without installing and operating required pollution technology. The complaint further alleges that these actions resulted in increased emissions of NOx and SO2, violating CAA requirements stating that companies must obtain the necessary permits prior to making modifications at a facility and must install and operate required pollution control equipment if those modifications will result in increases of certain pollutants.

Today’s action also requires that Cabot spend $450,000 on energy saving and pollution reduction projects that will benefit the communities surrounding the facilities in Franklin and Ville Platte, La. and in Pampa, Texas, such as upgrading air handling units at municipal buildings in the three communities to more efficient technology.

Carbon black is a fine carbonaceous powder used as a structural support medium in tires and as a pigment in a variety of products such as plastic, rubber, inkjet toner and cosmetics. It’s produced by burning oil in a low oxygen environment; the oil is transformed into soot (carbon black), which is collected in a baghouse. Because the oil used in the process is low value high sulfur oil, the manufacturing process creates significant amounts of SO2 and NOx,, as well as particulate matter.

This settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful air pollution from the largest sources of emissions. Since 2010, EPA has been focusing enforcement efforts on reducing emissions at carbon manufacturing plants in the United States. Currently, none of the 15 carbon black manufacturing plants located in the United States have controls on emissions of SO2 and NOx or have continuous emissions monitors.

Cabot Corporation manufactures global specialty chemicals and performance materials, which include rubber additives for tires and brake pads, activated carbon for air purifiers, chemicals used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, and inkjet colorants.

The proposed consent decree will be lodged with the United States District Court for the Western District Court for Louisiana and will be subject to a 45-day public comment period. The company is required to pay the penalty within 30 days after the court approves the settlement. The proposed consent decree can be viewed online at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html [justice.gov]

More information about the settlement: www2.epa.gov/enforcement/cabot-corporation-clean-air-act-settlement [epa.gov]

More information about EPA’s national enforcement initiative: www.epa.gov/compliance/data/planning/initiatives/2011airpollution.html [epa.gov]

Re:Let me guess (4, Insightful)

livingboy (444688) | about 5 months ago | (#45465887)

For that reason I used to send my course work as pdfs. I used Libre Office or Google Docs for editing and converted final documents to pdf format.

So MS Word couldn't change layout when document was opened by the teacher.

Re:Let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465903)

Considering they've been on OOO for 5 years... doubtful.

Re:Let me guess (5, Funny)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 5 months ago | (#45465919)

They will shit their pants when they see the open office suite completely messing the layout of the documents.

If it takes nearly a decade, they must be pretty constipated.

Re:Let me guess (1, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#45465987)

Lol, the fact that you're still using ANY office suit tells us how out of touch you are. Word and Excel documents are dead...

Re:Let me guess (2)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 5 months ago | (#45466189)

Sure they are, there Johnny Future. You are truly "Guy who tells everyone how out of touch they are for 'still' using things that _everyone_ still uses."

Let me guess, those losers using PC's are so out of touch for still using them. Oh, and car drivers? Pfft, why I just saw a flying car prototype so you're totally a 1930's loser if you still drive cars maaaan!

Re:Let me guess (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45467155)

"Lol, the fact that you're still using ANY office suit tells us how out of touch you are. Word and Excel documents are dead..."

I believe the discussion is about adults, so this wouldnt have anything to do with your campus.

Re:Let me guess (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466113)

"They will shit their pants when they see the microsoft office suite completely messing the layout of the documents."

-FTFY

Re:Let me guess (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466279)

You mean MS Word messes up the layout of nice documents made by the LibreOffice standard ? Shouldn't you dump MS Word then ? Can you really work with a company that messes up standardized documents ? Are they idiots or what ? Too much rain in Redmond or something ?

Obamacare Death Panels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465809)

I hope all you morons like what you voted for.

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2013/11/19/cms-official-60-to-70-percent-of-obamacares-web-system-still-hasnt-been-built-n1749461

"REP. CORY GARDNER: Well how much do we have to build today, still? What do we need to build? 50 percent? 40 percent? 30 percent?

HENRY CHAO: I think it's, uh, just an approximation, we're probably sitting somewhere between 60 and 70 percent because we still have to build...

GARDNER: Wait, 60 or 70 percent that needs to be built, still?

CHAO: Because we still have to build the payment systems to make payments to insurers in January.

GARDNER: Let me get this correct. Sixty to 70 percent of Healthcare.gov still needs to be built?

CHAO: It's not really about Healthcare.gov -- it's the federally-facilitated marketplace.

GARDNER: The entire system that the American people are being required to rely upon...

CHAO: Healthcare.gov -- the online application, verification, determination, plan compare, getting enrolled, generating the enrollment transaction -- that's 100 percent there.

GARDNER: But the entire system is 60 to 70 percent away from being complete. "

Is that what is fucking hilarious?

60-70% of the building still has to be done, including the payment system, which is crucial, because, see, without a payment system, you can't actually purchase insurance.

They've got 11 days to build 60-70% of the site, after not being able to do so after 3 1/2 years. And then, after they've built the remaining 60-70%, they expect, best case scenario, to have it working for 80% of users.

Even assuming they manage this, which, based on their history of stumblefuck bumbling and hapless pratfall incompetence, they won't -- What An Adventure it will be to enter your credit card information into Obama's website!

Re:Obamacare Death Panels (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465931)

They're German, they didn't vote for Obama, and they've had a universal healthcare system for decades longer than Obama has been alive.

Re:Obamacare Death Panels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466139)

& they don't have Cheney, Boehner, McConnell, Cruz, Rubio, & that little smirking idiot Cantor. Plus many more similar jokers who can't get real(tm) jobs!

Re:Obamacare Death Panels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466435)

You mean jokers with names like Reid, Pelosi, Boxer, etc.?

Re:Obamacare Death Panels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465933)

You're frothing because you're panicked. Americans will soon have some minimal health insurance. Learn to live with it.

Re:Obamacare Death Panels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466163)

You people are truly loony. I am an American, or rather a US citizen, and I have excellent health insurance that I pay for and have for many years.

Of course that will soon change next year due to Obamacare.

Do not tell me to learn to live with anything.

You go tell your story to this woman:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/woman-hailed-president-obamacare-success-story-now-cant-afford-obamacare_767868.html

"...But days, just really three days after she was mentioned by the president, Jessica Sanford started having problems, she was receiving letters from the Washington state health exchange," reports CNN. "The first letter telling her that tax credit was reduced, therefore, increasing the cost of her health care plan and the, take a look at this, then she received a letter just last week telling her that her tax credit had been taken away all together. Show you another document here, showing what the tax credit worked out to be... zero dollars according to this document that was provided to us by Jessica Sanford. She describes all of this as a roller coaster ride. Now she says she can't afford insurance in Washington state because of the new developments."

Now go fuck yourself.

MAKES CENTS !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465833)

Or does that not make pfennigs ??

Bavaria, the last bastion of once mighty Germany (for Germans).

Long-term costs (4, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 5 months ago | (#45465849)

He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail.

Meh... maybe.

FLOSS changes the costs. You spend more in training, but save on material. If your organization already has significant training procedures to accommodate big processes (like, say, a government would have), you'll probably come out ahead on the deal. If you have an office of 50 people who were all hired already knowing Microsoft's products, you can expect significant retraining costs that might exceed what you'll save on licensing.

Of course, managers who are focused solely on the cost will decline any training investment, figuring that it's similar enough to older Microsoft offerings that there should be no problem. Then when the users complain that they don't know the software, they blame the software for the failure.

Re:Long-term costs (5, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 5 months ago | (#45465893)

already has significant training procedures to accommodate big processes (like, say, a government would have),

HAHAHA! Thanks for the laugh.

I speak from experience when I tell you you're dreaming if you think government has training procedures. We have a training group and my area (the IT side) does more to train end users than they do. We keep wondering why we're paying these people when everyone comes to us with training questions.

Re:Long-term costs (4, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#45466271)

That's because you live in America, rather than an advanced, industrialized country with a well-run government.

Re:Long-term costs (-1, Flamebait)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 5 months ago | (#45466351)

If you call a nanny state advanced, then Myanmar must be the height of advanced society.

Re:Long-term costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466669)

Nurse! He's out of bed again!

Re:Long-term costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466889)

I think he means Mordor...

Re:Long-term costs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466945)

That's because you live in America, rather than an advanced, industrialized country with a well-run government.

Yeah, Munich is well known as the heartland of people who know how to run a government efficiently, who believe in their own superiority and are gifted in the rhetoric of demonizing foreign things. Any plans on shattering the glass windows of the Microsoft store at midnight?

Re:Long-term costs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466013)

Well, that was part of the reason for the whole thing.
They'd have to retrain their Office 2k/2k3-on-WinXP users for Office 2k7-on-Vista anyways.

Re:Long-term costs (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about 5 months ago | (#45466169)

When they need to be retrained on Windows 8, they'll definitely prefer Linux or a BSD, which have options of Windows like UXs

Re:Long-term costs (5, Interesting)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 5 months ago | (#45466187)

Actually this is a good point. My wife works for an insurance company. People there are just expected to know how to use a computer and MS Office by extension. They never receive training and the results are half can barely turn their machines on, the other half spend all day running around doing everyone else's work. We seem to expect people need training with FLOSS products, but expect them to just know what they're doing with MS products.

It's shameful really, I've spent many an afternoon banging my head on my desk while trying to talk someone through the ribbon interface because they were just expected to know what to do when Office 2007 first came out.

Re:Long-term costs (2)

fermion (181285) | about 5 months ago | (#45466923)

Which is why everyone freaks when something like Ribbons comes out.

It would be nice if we could train people, maybe in high school, to use technology and not just how to use a specific version of technology. I learned to use a computer, so when the different spreadsheets came out I was able to pick them up. Never have been able to pass a MOS certification, but I can use MS Office. Students now have to pass such a certification, but have trouble using Google Docs. So what has really been accomplished?

Re:Long-term costs (3, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | about 5 months ago | (#45466143)

Umm, the licensing costs are perpetual in many forms. So at no point ever can training costs go above the licensing, it's just a matter of how long to recoup. In addition, the benefits from always having the most up to date version of the software adds additional things in favor of not using MS products.

Long term licensing is never a viable solution, it's just a lot of people don't like to look at long term economic impacts.

Re:Long-term costs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466479)

Actually wrong on two counts.

1) You assume that one does "training" once, and then you're done. That is simply not true. You have turn over which requires continual retraining. You get new versions of the software, which then require retraining. Supporting open source software in a production environment is most certainly a continual cost.

2) Everyone thinks that they can somehow just get the software for free. It doesn't work that way. The people who are creating/maintaining the open source code still have to get paid, just like everyone else on the planet. In some way, shape or form, people still have to pay for open source code or the open source code go stagnate and eventually disappears. One very typical pattern than happens is that the people who thought they were getting something for free find themselves in the position of having to hire (and therefore, pay) teams of developers who then maintain the open source code to suite their needs (bug fixes, feature extensions, etc). Not only do they have to hire, manage and maintain this internal team and the tasks they are doing, that team then has to somehow coordinate with all the other completely independent teams who are trying to maintain the same code base. It is a major headache. So they end up having to pay for the software *and* having to manage a team to do the maintenance work on the code and have to continuously interact with other completely independent teams (instead of being able to delegate that work to a company which sold them the software). That is all pure overhead, real world, cost which people end up taking on in order to get that "free" code.

The bottom line is that FOSS is actually quite expensive to use in a business environment for real world production purposes and carries additional challenges and headaches beyond what one encounters when purchasing a software package from a third party. It only makes sense, really, when one comes back to the real world and realizes that everyone has to get paid for their work, or the work doesn't happen.

Re:Long-term costs (4, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | about 5 months ago | (#45466655)

1) You don't think this happens with propreitary software? The end-users still have to learn the software, whether you train them or you require them to come "pre-trained."

2) This is bullshit. I don't think you realize how much FOSS is written/maintained with no expectation or want of compensation. These people do it because they like doing it - and generally they feed themselves doing something else.

Re:Long-term costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466671)

I sincerely hope you're trolling, 'cause you had me there for a second.

Re:Long-term costs (5, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 5 months ago | (#45466415)

One of the costs that MS always puts into their calculation is the cost of retraining for open source but puts $0 into retraining costs for Windows and Office migrations even though newer versions do require some retraining. As was noted in the report, there was actually less retraining for OpenOffice as it was closer to MS Office 2000 GUI than the newer ribbonized versions of Office that they would have deployed. Don't get me started on much Win 8 retraining will cost.

Re:Long-term costs (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 months ago | (#45466657)

FLOSS changes the costs. You spend more in training, but save on material. If your organization already has significant training procedures to accommodate big processes (like, say, a government would have), you'll probably come out ahead on the deal. If you have an office of 50 people who were all hired already knowing Microsoft's products, you can expect significant retraining costs that might exceed what you'll save on licensing.

From what I've seen, small businesses won't have training infrastructure in place. Software needs to be able to be configured and used by people with little or inadequate training on the software or related technology. Large businesses do have dedicated training, but this is industry-specific. For example, insurance companies will have extensive training on policies and procedures so adding software/IT training is straight-forward. This is because the business lends itself to having a lot of people doing the same job, at the same location. But it won't work as well for, say, a retail chain. That's because while they have a lot of people doing the same job, there's only a few at each location.

What I've found to be by far the biggest cost in IT is support though, not training. I worked a contract out of a hospital that was switching over to a new electronic records system. Despite each employee receiving close to 60 hours of training each, on-site resources at each hospital given an additional 40 hours of training on top of that for more in-depth training, the whole thing detonated on the launch pad. The reason for the failure was that, although plenty of training had been given on the user interface and what-not, hospitals are highly specialized in how they process things; every department had its own unique process. And it resulted in a support nightmare that caused their entire organization's IT to seize like an engine without oil. Everybody, at every level of IT, was manning the phones for close to a month. There were no patches. There were no deployments. There was no new equipment being installed or upgraded. Everyone basically got kicked to tech support and pulled long, long hours, with queue depths that would summon images of the Krakken when viewing them.

While this was a proprietary solution sold with the promise of higher automation, lower operating costs, and compliance with all applicable laws... when the tires met the pavement, those savings were dwarfed by the support costs, which continued to be high for the next six months post-launch. They anticipate replacing it in 7-10 years. But in those six months, all the potential savings for the rest of its expected service live, vaporized under the heat of support costs.

This is not an atypical situation; most IT projects fail in this fashion. Open source doesn't change this. Zero cost software would still only reduce the total cost of ownership by perhaps 7-10% in a best-case scenario. If you want to save costs in IT, worry less about the software and more about the strength of your project managers. Ultimately, your organizations ability to rapidly respond to changing user needs and have a broad IT skillset across your department's labor force, will do more to help your bottom line than any technology or software you will ever purchase.

Ugh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465861)

I've seen German porn. It's going to get very messy in here with all the joygasms.

Incredible information about the logistics (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 months ago | (#45465871)

The thing that blew me away is they had a much more advanced set of issues to deal with than a typical bureaucratic office would. The custom macros and apps isn't something that a normal company would be hung up on. That would imply to me that so long as your office can find equivalents of their core applications (whether it be accounting or graphics software), the rest shouldn't be so difficult to overcome. I've always rolled my eyes at the idea of a real-world migration for company of significant size.

Here's an interesting tidbit from the article about how Microsoft inflated the costs of their migration to put a negative spin on the project:

A team of just 25 people at Munich develop, roll out and provide final support for the Ubuntu-based LiMux client. A larger number of people look after the everyday administration of the city's PCs but far fewer than the 1,000 people cited in the Microsoft/HP report as implementing the LiMux project.

Another hidden benefit is even if your project doesn't look like it'll pan out, if you make it high-profile enough you know you can use it to leverage a better contract with Microsoft if you decide to stick with Windows.

Re:Incredible information about the logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466195)

Another hidden benefit is even if your project doesn't look like it'll pan out, if you make it high-profile enough you know you can use it to leverage a better contract with Microsoft if you decide to stick with Windows.

THIS THIS THIS!

Oh yes.

Re:Incredible information about the logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466885)

The thing that blew me away is they had a much more advanced set of issues to deal with than a typical bureaucratic office would. The custom macros and apps isn't something that a normal company would be hung up on.

You're quite wrong with that last bit. One of the big things sticking out is IE6 for exactly this reason -- custom activex. Another is lots and lots of vba glue in excel and other places. Certain companies are more or less made out of that.

Also, don't forget they are big; this is the entire city bureaucrazy we're talking about. Lots of custom little temporary solutions cooked up over the years that then became entrenched are a fact of life and with these guys, they had that on top of twenty two IT organisations (each probably well larger than a single person) serving some 15k seats. So yeah.

That, I suppose, is what a large part of the setback in time came from: Not just taking stock, but running into a lot more variety that needed to be dealt with properly. Now that they have done that, I would expect them to have a far more robust infrastructure and lots fewer hard-to-track-down subtle interop problems that come from all sorts of weird scriptery doing their oblivious little things.

You can see it in the small core of toolsmiths that provide software solutions for the entire show. From what little I know, I think they did a bang-up job and I would've loved to've been part of building that out. Oh well. This thing they have ought to make disaster recovery that much easier too. I wonder if they've tested that.

Subjective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465879)

In other words they made their decision based upon vague subjective factors - e.g. fear of loss of control rather than the objective criteria of saving money.

Re:Subjective (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 5 months ago | (#45465939)

Given past behaviour it seems a pretty objective fear. Same would apply to any project, proprietary or open source, that doesn't offer migration paths for data.

Re:Subjective (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465957)

The desire to save money is, however, subjective. Freedom is not "vague," however. If you use proprietary software, you're not the one in control.

Re:Subjective (2)

X0563511 (793323) | about 5 months ago | (#45466691)

The cloud is useful for two things and two things only:

1. Additional offsite backup.
2. Scalable processing.

Office 365 can fuck right off.

reasons... (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 5 months ago | (#45465891)

"He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail."

so just to say FU MS?

Re:reasons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45465999)

"He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail."

so just to say FU MS?

Yeah, that struck me as well. If the monetary reasons aren't there, MS will remain entrenched essentially forever.

Re:reasons... (4, Interesting)

SargentDU (1161355) | about 5 months ago | (#45466029)

@zlives ... No, for freedom, is how I read it. They had older machines that worked fine with Win2K but would not work well with XP or newer, so they decided to migrate to Linux for the freedom from having to do as their Computer Operating System Company demanded. This way, they could upgrade the hardware as they saw fit to upgrade.

Re:reasons... (4, Insightful)

unixisc (2429386) | about 5 months ago | (#45466043)

I agree w/ him. It's important to do the right things for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

If one just talks money here, the costs involved in training people on FOSS alternatives would get incurred, and invariably be higher short term. The real selling point ought to be the shift of control from software vendors to consumers. In this case, since it's a government, it's somewhat easier, but the whole idea behind it is that companies - be it Microsoft, Apple or anyone else can't dictate version changes or upgrades. If it is FOSS, then the consumer becomes a de-facto owner and gets to decide when, if at all, they upgrade, what they upgrade, any training schedules thereby incurred and so on. In other words, they get to plan when to budget for changes in computing environments.

Ultimately, the savings there are quantifiable at any point in time, but over time, the savings may not be there since one has to sometimes upgrade computing environments, whether it's on the schedule of an ISV or a consumer. That's why arguing about saving money is not a good approach. A better one is about shifting the control on any software transitions, and thereby budgeting schedules, from ISVs to consumers, thereby enabling them to plan better for it.

Re:reasons... (5, Insightful)

powerpopolon (1781920) | about 5 months ago | (#45467011)

"He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail."

Note that he doesn't say migrating to FOSS doesn't save money in the end. What he says is that if your migration project gets accepted only on money saving grounds, since cost estimations are very subjective, at one point some Microsoft-friendly bureaucrat with sufficient political weight is going to come up with an Excel spreadsheet "proving" the FOSS migration doesn't save money, and then kill your project.

so just to say FU MS?

That's one way to put it. But then it was MS who told them "FU dear customer" first, as in "NT and Office 2000 are dead so now you must buy XP and 2003 and if you need new PCs to run them too bad for you. By the way if you want authentication to really work well you must buy AD servers to replace your current directory system". It's about you being the one who decides on your IT strategy instead of having your monopolistic software supplier telling you what to do. It looks like a reasonable reason to migrate. It was the primary reason they gave and it saved their project from being killed by bogus cost studies.

"always likely to fail" (3, Funny)

toygeek (473120) | about 5 months ago | (#45465905)

Which is it? "Always" or "Likely"?

Pairing those two words together like that is always likely a mistake.

Re:"always likely to fail" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466111)

You realize he isn't a native English speaker, don't you.

Re:"always likely to fail" (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#45466115)

Not really.

If I drop a rock, it's always likely to fall to the Earth based on past observations.

However, in the event of Really Unusual Circumstances, it could go up. We can't conclusively say things will never go up, but we've seen a large enough sample to indicate that it most likely probably will travel down. ;-)

Re:"always likely to fail" (4, Informative)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 5 months ago | (#45466193)

Or, instead of attempting grammar pedantry, we can realize that he's saying there is no case in which this approach has a probable outcome of success. That is, all cases are likely to fail - this approach always likely to fail, no matter the situation.

Whether you agree with this assessment is another issue.

Breaking the chains (5, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 5 months ago | (#45465913)

I suspect that everyone (except MS) are extremely happy to break the chains of monitoring licenses and making sure that their accounts are paid up etc.

If I were the CFO of a company I would love to answer the call from some MSDN "certified" bunch of losers call wondering where their renewal check is and I could then tell them that they can go to hell.

But now in these post Snowden times I would be extremely wary of any corporate data where a Microsoft OS has access to my data. How much state sponsored corporate espionage has been taking place with the cooperation of MS? None, Some, Tonnes?

Any foreign company competing with politically connected US corporations on billion dollar deals should take a long hard look at any US based OS and think, "Might the US government be grabbing my data in their National Interest?"

In some countries Cisco has been seeing huge drops in sales. I suspect that there is much more of this to come as it can be hard for a huge company to just throw their network gear out the window and replace it at the drop of a hat. But I also suspect that directives have been issued that all US gear is to be gone ASAP.

Re:Breaking the chains (1, Offtopic)

Curupira (1899458) | about 5 months ago | (#45466145)

Replying to undo a wrong moderation (tried to mod +1 insightful, accidentally clicked on -1 redundant). In a related note: WHY, Slashdot? Why do you still don't have an easy undo button for 10 lousy seconds?

Re:Breaking the chains (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466173)

WHY, Slashdot? Why do you still don't have an easy undo button for 10 lousy seconds?

Why can't the editors spot dupes? Why can't they spell? Why can't Slashdot support unicode?

Re:Breaking the chains (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 5 months ago | (#45466581)

I had mod points yesterday, but now I don't.

I did not use them responsibly and they went away.

I suggest all of you urge the Slashdot to give you your money back.

Re:Breaking the chains (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 5 months ago | (#45466209)

Yeah, it's not like there were people _busted_ for trying to subvert Linux and likely people who weren't caught. Linux is _totally_ secure dude - trust me!

Re:Breaking the chains (2)

blackiner (2787381) | about 5 months ago | (#45466339)

The difference is that you have the Freedom to find and fix any flaws in Linux.

Re:Breaking the chains (0)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 5 months ago | (#45466399)

Rubbish. Complete rubbish. Good luck with the army of $200k/yr math/CS geniuses you'd need to go over every line of code. And you can get the source to Windows and do the same.

Unless you are a large corporation or a government you do not have the resources to do much but install it from some repository "somewhere" and hope nobody hacks you. And even 99% of governments or large corporations don't sit there and go over even a moderate percent of the code to confirm it's secure. Sure you can harden it considerably but ultimately there could be 50 obscure holes, intentional or not.

Re:Breaking the chains (5, Insightful)

blackiner (2787381) | about 5 months ago | (#45466665)

You are entirely missing the point. You do not have the Windows source (sure, SOME people can get this, most cannot), and even if you did have it you wouldn't be able to build or distribute it. You are entirely at Microsoft's whim, and they are legally bound to comply with the US government. You seem to think a complex black box built by people at the governments whims, without any ability to fix the internals if something is wrong is somehow more secure than a complex transparent box that allows you to fix the internals.

Re:Breaking the chains (2)

clovis (4684) | about 5 months ago | (#45466795)

And you can get the source to Windows and do the same.

Are you talking about this? https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sharedsource/default.aspx [microsoft.com]
I'm not sure what you meant by "you can get the source", but it does not apply to this reader nor hardly anyone else on Slashdot. Does your statement depend on some unusual definition of "you" or "can get"?

However I have had a copy of various variants of Linux's code since near the beginning as well as the compiler's code and apps, and I've read most of it as have many, many people. I doubt there's a need for an "army of $200K math/cs geniuses".

However, your point about the security of the repository is important as repositories have indeed been hacked in the past, and I can't claim that all attacks were discovered.

Re:Breaking the chains (5, Insightful)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 5 months ago | (#45466363)

I knew the Snowden impact was going to be huge -- not because suddenly politicians would be activated because people "woke up" -- but because medium-sized companies will suspect either rightly or wrongly that "hey, maybe some of that spying affected us in a trade negotiation or lost technology?" The politicians care now, because the MONEY cares.

And then you will see US corporations care about security like the auto company cares about Gas Mileage; they have no choice. Either show you are secure and you stand up to NSA or you don't get the sale.

NOW it matters. Some fat cat might lose a chunk out of their wallet -- and there will be outrage!

The damage won't be to US security -- but the economic damage will be in the tens of billions of dollars of lost sales.

Our public transportation never got the memo (2)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | about 5 months ago | (#45465923)

Tens of millions spent on new screens which provide less information than the old flippy-type info on upcoming and incoming trains/subways and they're down all the fucking time. ALL the time. Usually with the typical NT error message in a grey box on a blue screen. Or there's a dump and some module names.

Money v. Freedom (4, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 5 months ago | (#45466167)

The project leader talks about why the shift was primarily about freedom, ... He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail.

I think that is the core difficulty in advancing the use of F/LOSS (in the US at least). We are so culturally indoctrinated to see money, and the single-minded pursuit of it, as the measure of success that it is institutionally difficult to grasp sacrificing money in the short run for freedom; regardless of the impact on our bottom line, society, or the larger economy in the long run. The American mindset believes freedom is good in theory, but fails to see that economic success is coupled to choosing freedom -- in a broader sense than the freedom to screw your putative customers -- over short-run revenue.

Wow, those are some seriously run-on sentences. Bite me, ... ummm, Sklansky and Malmuth? ... Case and Shiller? ... Black and Scholes? ... Ah, yes, I remember! Strunk and White! That's it. What was I talking about?

People act as if this is optional (5, Insightful)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 5 months ago | (#45466233)

The comments here are about the difficulty, the expense, the problems with user acceptance, etc. All of those imply that this sort of change is somehow and optional thing that they can choose to do...or not. In actuality, however, this change is both mandatory and inevitable...and only a matter of time. Maybe next year, maybe in 5 years, or maybe in 10 years but every single enterprise will eventually be forced to make this switch as Microsoft evolves and changes ('implodes' is the word that comes to mind) as it tries to maintain growth and earnings while trying to continue selling the same thing to the same places that already have purchased more than they will ever need.

Wishful thinking. (2)

westlake (615356) | about 5 months ago | (#45466833)

Maybe next year, maybe in 5 years, or maybe in 10 years but every single enterprise will eventually be forced to make this switch as Microsoft evolves and changes ('implodes' is the word that comes to mind) as it tries to maintain growth and earnings...

Microsoft is doing extraordinarily well in the enterprise market and talk of an implosion is nonsense.

Commercial Licensing revenue was $9.594 billion, with a gross margin of $8.801 billion. This is growth of 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively. SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync all achieved double digits growth, and multi-year licensing revenue was up 8 percent.

Commercial Other revenue was $1.603 billion and had a gross margin of $0.275 billion, growing by 28 percent and 161 percent, respectively. Cloud revenue was up by 103 percent, with both Office 365 seats and Azure customs both increasing by triple digits. Two thirds of Dynamics CRM customers are now opting for cloud deployments.

Windows Division notional revenue is up 4 percent at $4.581 billion, but operating income is down 20 percent at $2.242 billion. This shows just how significant the impact of the decline of the PC market is, as well Microsoft's continued failure to capture any significant share of the tablet market.

Server and Tools revenue was up 11 percent to $5.052 billion, and operating income was up 17 percent to $2.026 billion. In contrast to the Windows Division results, this shows the much greater resilience of the purely enterprise-focused offerings.

Microsoft posts record Q1 revenue, increased operating income: Windows OEM revenue sharply down, but enterprise sales buoyant. [arstechnica.com]

So they didn't save money? (3, Interesting)

kenh (9056) | about 5 months ago | (#45466721)

"He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail."

In my town we had a Linux "advocate" that insisted we should ditch MS and Apple for Linux to save "millions per year" in our local school district (our entire IT budget was less than $3M/year) - he felt that by proving Linux ran on 10 year old hardware in his basement, that meant we could use 10 year old hardware in the classroom...

His argument found no traction with anyone, he felt (among other things) that there was no need for central management of 1,500 desktops & laptops, that our robust networking infrastructure could be replaced by unmanaged switches, and our seven campus WiFi network could be served with an infinite number of $40 routers flashed with WRT, etc.

Re:So they didn't save money? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 5 months ago | (#45466809)

Gotta love the "I do this at home in my hobby time, and this is what I know, so therefore it must scale perfectly and infinitely and be applicable to all problems" crowd.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

This is how you switch to Linux in the workplace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45466755)

Dear Employees,

We will be switching from Microsoft/Office to Linux and $FOSS_OFFICE. Whining about this change will not be tolerated. You must learn how to use the new system. Period. That is all there is to it. No complaining allowed.

Sincerely,
The person who can fire you

Nine Years? (0)

tgd (2822) | about 5 months ago | (#45466869)

Hope someone lost their job over that ...

No matter what technical solution you end up with, if it takes you nine years to switch to a new platform, you can be pretty damn certain where you ended up isn't where you want to be or should be.

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