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'Independent' report used MS-sourced data to trash OSS

'Microsoft gave us this stuff, but we haven't checked it'

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The Cap Gemini report is also helpful on the subject of how the Microsoft vs Microsoft cost savings might be derived, and this is important, because the amount paid to Microsoft was of prime importance to Newham during the negotiations. As you'll recall, Newham wanted price cuts, Microsoft initially held out and offered a free study instead, and in November 2003 Newham looked at the netproject recommendations and the Cap Gemini report and provisionally decided in favour of open source, subject to further price negotiations. Then mysteriously, Microsoft and Newham loved one another again.

This becomes less mysterious with the help of the Cap Gemini report: "Looking at the long-term transformation exercise for Newham, we have consulted with Microsoft to explore how a future partnership with Newham might secure predictable, sustainable and long term funding model." [sic] What on earth could that mean, one wonders? It sounds remarkably like some kind of coded wording for 'price cuts' or 'special deals.' Which indeed it appears to be: "This goal can be supported by: A Local Government Partnership Programme that provides very close working with a select number of Local Authorities and influencers that provide detailed knowledge; Use of Microsoft's Local Government User Forum to allow a broader market contact and feedback; and Creating a solution reference programme to promote uptake of Microsoft."

Well... The "select number of Local Authorities" provides a mechanism for Microsoft UK to do special deals with organisations it wants to keep within the tent, without the price cut rot leaching out to the whole of government. We have no idea about the Local Government User Forum, but "a solution reference programme to promote uptake of Microsoft" can surely only mean that Newham can get special prices and support and installation subsidy by becoming a showcase that is pumped in case studies as a Microsoft success. We're pretty sure that talking to the IT supplier in order to move the pricing goalposts isn't part of Gartner's TCO methodology, and we have severe doubts about how this sort of approach squares with acting "as an independent third party."

At least one case study, incidentally, exists already, but we've no idea how many Exchange seats it counts as. You can get it here, and if you read through it you'll note how The Facts morph as the spin doctors get hold of them. "A multi-disciplinary team under the lead of Capgemini was brought in to evaluate the best possible solution for the borough, comparing the costs, business benefits, and risk profiles of a Microsoft solution (incorporating Microsoft Windows XP and the Microsoft Office System on the desktop, with Microsoft Windows Server 2003 on the server) with equivalent Open Source solutions... Specific benefits of an all-Microsoft solution included: A potential 13.5 per cent reduction in ICT support and operation costs; Potentially double the productivity benefits of an Open Source solution."

Yes, that right, the heavy disclaimers about the open source exercise fell off. And off here:

"Based upon the Gartner TCO tools, the study also indicated that an Open Source solution would provide approximately half of the cost savings of a comparable Microsoft solution, but would cost three times more to implement due to significantly increased migration costs.

"The estimated cost savings for the Open Source solution, based upon Linux desktop and server operating systems and either StarOffice or OpenOffice as the productivity application, were in the region of seven per cent, per annum, as compared to the 13.5% saving per annum on ICT support costs with the Microsoft solution. The Microsoft Solution had potentially double the productivity associated cost savings of an Open Source solution."

We've already seen how the study came to indicate these things. It's also worth noting at this juncture that the Microsoft suggested open source deployment is imaginary. The netproject report recommends in the short term a server infrastructure move to OSS "where this would not interfere with the running of the current environment", the conversion of applications to run under Terminal Server or to be delivered via browser, an upgrade to Exchange 2003, then a pilot deployment of OpenOffice and Mozilla, and finally the rollout of OSS desktops "once the need to have a specific desktop operating system has been removed."

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