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Open source more expensive than Microsoft, claims CIO

IT giant Microsoft works out cheaper than open source alternatives, according to Hampshire County Council CIO Jos Creese.

In an interview with UK IT publication Computing, Creese explained that when examining alternatives to the company’s offerings, Microsoft always worked out more affordable.

Cressem a well-known commentator on public sector ICT issues, explained that his Council uses Windows desktops and despite looking at the use of open source offerings, the large IT firm proved cheaper every time.

The company’s products are more cost effective because the majority of staff at the local authority are already familiar with them, reducing the need to pay for training on a new system, he said.

However, the firm itself has helped to ensure the council chooses its products over open source alternatives.

“Microsoft has been flexible and helpful in the way we apply their products to improve the operation of our frontline services and this helps to de-risk on-going costs,” Creese claimed.

“The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the licence cost.

“I don’t have a dogma about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions – from Microsoft, SAP to Oracle and others – need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims,” he added.

“Greater flexibility needed”

Creese said he hoped that vendors would show greater flexibility in their contracts, taking a long-term view of the picture.

The local government CIO also expressed his concerns about solely doing business with small suppliers.

“There’s a huge dependency for a large organisations using a small organisation. You need to be mindful of the risk that they can’t handle the scale and complexity, or that the product may need adaption to work with our infrastructure,” he claimed.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude is currently driving the use of open source software in government, openly asking to ditch Microsoft’s Office Suite in February.

His Department has recently completed trials of the open source Libre Office suite.