First they kicked the Macs out of City Hall, now it’s time to kick Microsoft out, too

Do you know how much money the City of Dayton spends on Microsoft Office? Neither do I, but, the reality is, we could be using netbooks with Linux, Firefox and Google apps and storing everything in “the cloud.”

Other cities are doing it:

…the appeal of Google Apps to Conrad Cross, the CIO for the City of Orlando. Conrad is leading the migration of all 3,000 city employees from Lotus Notes/Domino to Google Apps, including the Police and Fire departments. Facing software license renewals, major upgrade costs, and a 12% reduction in staff, it was the right time for the City to consider other options. For half the cost of the alternative, Orlando is jumping onto Google’s innovation curve and freeing up IT resources to focus on more important efforts. “The time was right,” said Cross. “I’m delivering a better service with less resources, and that gets me ahead of the game.” Just down Interstate-95, the 11th largest school district in the US, Palm Beach County, is also moving its more than 200,000 students, staff and other users to Apps.

via Official Google Enterprise Blog: Governments Gone Google.

There are still some things that Google hasn’t integrated- like a PDF maker with OCR (not that anyone in City Hall has figured that technology out yet) but, for the most part our IT budget could be cut by adopting either open source alternatives or cloud computing.

Thanks to gf for tweeting about this post on the Google blog.

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9 Responses

  1. Will Brooks November 11, 2009 / 2:45 pm
    I’ve been using Linux since 1999. I run a hosted VPS server for my business and use Linux for just about everything I can. Only exception is we have to use MS word for all publishing related work my business handles. I can say w/o a doubt Linux is more stable, cheaper, less prone to malware problems, more secure if properly configured with a well tuned distribution, is way more stable, all of the code can be examined or customized to suit your tastes, and is just cool. Can you tell what I think about kicking M$ out?
    M$ has a strong monopoly with M$ word. I still think that the city would save a lot of money by running both platforms. Let Linux do any server work, clouds, etc. Do an assessment to see exactly who needs access to M$ office suite and only give it to those who absolutely need it. You would have a learning curve to deal with that would increase the TCO initially but when you lengthen your horizon a lot of money would be saved.

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  2. Kate November 11, 2009 / 3:01 pm
    I think all state government in Massachusetts uses Linux?

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  3. jstults November 11, 2009 / 3:59 pm
    @Will Brooks: Do an assessment to see exactly who needs access to M$ office suite and only give it to those who absolutely need it.

    The alternative office suites (OpenOffice.org, Google Aps) provide all of the necessities; I think what an assessment like that would find is that there are some conveniences that MS Office users are used to that may not be present in the open alternatives.
     
    I transitioned a team I was leading to some open source tools (not office stuff, some number crunching software), got them over the learning curve and things worked well enough, but in the end we went back to the proprietary solution because of some extra convenience items which were nice enough to be worth the licensing cost (which was a pretty small portion of our total operating costs anyway), we were also willing to pay for professional support, which is hit or miss with open source, sometimes that is readily available and sometimes not.
     
    So, bottom line: it takes leadership, because people do not want to have to learn new office software. If leadership has the will to lead the change (motivating, training and hand-holding), then the open alternatives are plenty capable.  The real question then is is this the best use of the leadership’s efforts?  Is there lower-hanging fruit that might yield bigger savings?  Office software should probably be on the hit list, but probably not the top target.
     
    BTW, happy Fedora user here.

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  4. Will Brooks November 11, 2009 / 4:16 pm
    @jstults
    I started out using Mandrake 8.0 and then used Red Hat and eventually Fedora for several years. There aren’t too many distros that I haven’t tinkered with. I have also run several CentOS servers. A couple years ago I tried Ubuntu and have never looked back. I do like Fedora though and think it’s a great distro. It gives the stability of Red Hat but let’s you tinker with bleeding edge software.
    For my specific situation working with publishing houses and the like we pretty much have to use M$ word because we depend very heavily on tracked changes feature in Word. We also use Visio with one of our clients. When I say get an assessment I think I would have some pretty narrow criteria for that assessment. It would be hard to say if it’s the best use of leadership’s efforts. IMO – it at least be considered in closing the massive budget shortfall that looms for next year. I agree with you, it should be on the list but not top target, unless of course a crap load of money goes to pay for licenses – which I doubt.
     
     

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  5. Seth November 11, 2009 / 10:29 pm
    With the advent of Samba 4 (and it’s almost 1:1 implementation of ActiveDirectory) and virtualization technologies like Xen on the server side, API emulation technologies like WINE for the desktop (so legacy Windows apps could potentially be supported – case-by-case basis, of course), and the countless number of “cloud” offering, incremental changes could certainly be made.
    I hope the Netbook would be an optional piece of hardware – I’m blind and my hands are bigger than average, so staring and typing on one of those things for more than twenty minutes becomes a frustrating experience, regardless of the neat/portability factor. Maybe throw in a nice widescreen monitor? Haha. :)

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  6. FTLOD November 12, 2009 / 10:57 am
    Talk to Gary Leitzell about this!

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  7. JasonM80 November 12, 2009 / 7:54 pm
    Google has made an interesting move, undercutting the price of MS Office. However, the current product lacks the functionality of of MS Office and the user interface is sufficiently different that it involves a large learning curve for some users. That said, the fact that it is offered in SaaS (Software as a Service) form means that Google can continually revise the product and add features with minimal impact to the end user.

    On the other hand, Microsoft currently has Office Web Applications, the web version of the Office suite of products, in beta. This will compete directly with Google Apps and will likely be priced competitively. It will also offer a significantly-reduced learning curve for users who migrate from the shrink-wrapped version of Office.

    (Jason – working with M80, representing Microsoft and Windows Azure)

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