Tuesday, 28 October 2008 17:40
Open Source desktops are far cheaper to maintain than proprietary
desktop configurations, says Rolf Schuster, a diplomat at the German
Embassy in Madrid and the former head of IT at the Foreign Ministry.
Schuster was one of the participants in a discussion on Open Standards and interoperability that took place last week Tuesday during the Open Source World conference in the city of Malaga, Spain.
The Foreign Ministry is migrating all of its 11.000 desktops to GNU/Linux and other Open source applications. According to Schuster, this has drastically reduced maintenance costs in comparison with other ministries. "The Foreign Ministry is running desktops in many far away and some very difficult locations. Yet we spend only one thousand euro per desktop per year. That is far lower than other ministries, that on average spend more than 3000 euro per desktop per year."
The ministry has so far migrated almost four thousand of its desktops to GNU/Linux and expects to complete the move by the summer of 2009, Schuster said. About half of all the 230 embassies and consulates have now been switched over. "It is not without problems. It took a while to find a developer in Japan to help us with some font issues we had in Open Office."
"The embassies in Japan and Korea have completely switched over, the embassy in Madrid has been exclusively using GNU/Linux since October last year", Schuster added, calling the migration a success.
The Foreign Ministry in 2001 began migrating its back-end IT systems to Open Source in order to provide all embassies and consulates with Internet access and email. "Our strategy was to use as far as possible Open Standards and Open Source. Reduction of costs was the main reason for this decision." Upon completion of this project, the ministry decided in 2004 to also migrate the desktops.
The biggest hurdle proved to be to convince the two hundred IT workers a the ministry. "Their issues were not technical. They just did not know anything about Linux and Open Source and we had to change their views. We took all of them on a crash course of using Linux servers and configuring Apache. There they discovered that it works."
Source Software Observatory and Repository "DE: Foreign ministry: 'Cost
of Open Source desktop maintenance is by far the lowest'" October 27,