One London CIO has claimed to the UK press that in cases where the public sector can no longer provide competitive cost savings with proprietary systems, it may choose to adopt open source alternatives.
According to Geoff Connell, Havering and Newham joint head of ICT, despite the government’s open source drive, even after all this time open source tends to only be used for niche solutions.
TCO (total cost of ownership) is the biggest problem in adopting open source technology and software in the public sector, Connell contends.
“Newham did a study of total cost of ownership for wall-to-wall Microsoft products vs. open source 10 years ago and the Microsoft approach won,” said Connell.
“Sadly, I don’t think this has changed at a corporate level. The cost of support, retraining, plus higher integration costs favour Microsoft, Oracle etc,” he added.
Connell claimed that he is not against the use of open source - but does believe that since public sector leaders like him are under huge pressure to deliver rapid returns on investment, ‘shared source’ technologies are often more financially viable.
Microsoft’s Shared Source Initiative, which sees qualified customers licensed with product source for debugging and reference purposes, is one example of this says Connell.
He also noted that one trend he expects to see continue into the future is the use of open source mainly for web developments.
Connell believes that buyers should be looking at areas where traditional providers are not delivering competitive prices and innovation.
Regardless of the provenance of any underlying code in a service, cost will always be the key factor in sourcing it, he claims.