Thursday, April 07, 2005

Microsoft Licensing for Government

I understand that the amount that the Government pays for Microsoft software licences is a very closely guarded secret. But it must be a great deal more than NZD$30 million - given that in 2003 the Ministry of Education signed a national agreement for schools worth NZD$27.45 million. That's just for education, and covers an estimated 100,000 computers.

Whilst this appears to provide benefits for schools, it does reinforce the Microsoft monopoly on operatings systems and office software. Schools should have the right to choose the software that they wish to utilise, rather than having little option other than to accept what the government has already negotiated.

More money could be saved by utilising open source software such as Linux and - the implementation would save tens of millions in licensing fees - money which could be feed into our ailing education system which is suffering under the weight of the NCEA.

Naturally, greater discounts are provided for those organisations sucking more heavily on Microsoft's teats - back in 2003, it was estimated that over 160 organisations representing 90,000+ systems were interested in government licensing.

Perhaps one unfair point of note is that any company that has 51% ownership by the government is entitled to access to G2003. Doesn't this smack of a form of government subsidy when you consider that TVNZ may have some of its IT costs reduced but commercial competitors are stuck paying higher prices?

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Blogger ZenTiger said...

But currently there is a wealth of software and expertise out there for a Windows environment, and that has a cost. I know the TCO figures are highly debatable, but I still give the MS world the edge on this.

Its changing fast though, and is something that could be reviewed every 2 years. So, I'd be for bulk deals on the OS that show decent cost savings, but be cautious about being "locked in".

I also believe the OS is ultimately not as important as the freedom to choose the application. This is not to say the OS choice is not insignificant, but standardising the OS can have a big impact on the support infrastructure.

There are a few open source alternatives in the MS world whilst the Penguins gather their strength.

I am therefore all for giving government departments and business units more say over deciding the business tools themselves.

My business develops software, but we are generally excluded from any government deals becuase we are not big enough to counter the bulk deals, big company marketing machine, centralised purchasing and IT dicatates.

The clients can "love it" but then another level higher up will say "too bad, lets implement this other solution at 5 times the cost becuase we've done the deal."

If you end up agreeing with the Greens (as in the other post) then look harder for the catch. It may actually be there after all.

4/08/2005 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Open Source Software doesn't have to mean a complete move away from a Windows environment - there is a wide range of OSS that runs on top of Windows, Mac and Linux. And this is where part of the freedom comes in - you are a not tied to one particular vendor anymore, and have the option of moving to a different platform (hardware and OS) yet still using the same application software.

And it is the applications that truely lock you in to a platform, as that is the software that understands your critical data.

The Green PR on OSS is just one of the first, so any catches may become apparent further down the track once/if other parties become involved.

So I think we're fairly much in agreement here.

4/08/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Yes, I had a bit of a convoluted rant that was finally heading towards your point and then, for some strange reason, stopped short.

But given the collaborative nature of blogs and blog comments, I knew some-one would step in and tweak the source and release a new and improved version of the comment for mass, free, consumption.

4/08/2005 04:40:00 PM  

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