2009. november 22., vasárnap

European Council: moving to open source desktops will not result in savings

The European Council says migrating the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Court of Auditors to open source desktops will not decrease budgetary costs.

The Council, in answers to written questions by the Italian Member of the European Parliament Marco Cappato, on 19 April referred to estimates made in 2005 by a working group from these three institutes, that moving to open source would cost them 76.4 million euro.

The council says that the risk of the EU being dependent on Microsoft is "sufficiently limited by the terms of the contract with that company".

The Council at first would not make public its 2005 study into the costs of moving to open source workstations. Cappato this Thursday wrote on his web site that the council told him that the disclosure of the report could undermine the protection of the commercial interests of Microsoft. "In fact, the general secretariat of the Council told me they had not kept a copy."

However, recently Cappato was given the document, and yesterday he posted it on his website.

The 'Report by the working group at the Interinstitutional IT committee on the feasibility of a migration of workstations to open source software' puts the total costs of moving all software applications in use at the European institutions to open source at 76.4 million euro. For the Commission such a move would cost 53.9 million euro, for the Court of Auditors 3.5 and for the Parliament 19 million euro.

The working group says these costs include for instance the hiring of extra IT engineers to help with the migration, training of and support for end-users, converting all office application macros and untangling the complex mix of applications dependent on Microsoft Office or the Microsoft operating system.

The group adds: "It is clear that, at present, a possible mass-migration of PCs to open source offers no new functionality to the end users."

Regain control

The working group writes it is difficult to estimate the financial benefits of moving to open source. "Given that the institutions spend about 6.2 million euro per on Microsoft licences and assuming that the cost of maintaining open source is about a third of these licence costs, it would take 36.7 years to amortise these cost."

However, the working group also writes that moving to open source would allow the institutions to regain control over their IT environment and would help them to avoid vendor lock-in. "It could be argued that moving to open source would be the best commercial and technological thing to do."

More information:
Marco Cappato's blog (in Italian)
European Council answers