Feeds

Specsavers opens eyes to open source

Is the bottom line better with or without? With or without?

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Specsavers, the retail chain of opticians, is putting the finishing touches to an IT refit of its UK operation that has seen it move a third of its applications to open source software.

The group is making the same transition across all eight countries in which it operates in order to save money and hassle. Key to the move is the adoption of open standards so it can avoid being trapped into using any single vendor's software.

Michel Khan, IT director for the Specsavers Group, said it had already saved a "mid-quartile" six figure sum from licence fees alone and another "lower quartile" six figure sum from the operational benefits of wresting control back from proprietary vendors.

"The topline is that we've been fundamentally moving our store systems to a completely open standards architecture, and as a result of that we've moved to open source components," he said.

Specsavers had gained a "flexibility" in its architecture, said Khan. It had taken control of the versions of software it uses, as well as what hardware upgrades it did when, which is a significant cost. This is where it had made its operational savings, because it was able to better manage its systems and have less engineer call-outs.

"We're not driven by the supplier," he noted.

Much of the dirty work was done in a joint venture formed by Sirius Corporation, a UK open source services firm, and Scalix, a publisher of open source enterprise email systems to compete with the industry standard, Microsoft's Exchange Server.

Sirius helped Specsavers move to open standards, championing OpenLDAP in place of Microsoft's Active Directory.

Of course, as the open source politicos say nowadays, this is not about Microsoft. It just so happens Microsoft hogs so much of the corporate software market. The Sirius guys were chuffed to bits.

"For a big company like Specsavers, not having to implement Active Directory, that's like the crown jewels. It's the critical lock-in tool [for Microsoft]," said Sirius marketing director Tom Callway.

Specsavers also bought into Samba, on open source alternative to the Microsoft file and print server, and a source of much of the momentum behind the European Commission's ongoing anti-trust case against Redmond.

The group aims to have made the same transition across all its 960 stores with Redhat, a version of the Linux open source operating system, being used to run its retail computer terminals. Four thousand of these have been transitioned so far, with another 4,000 still to be done in other countries.

Its point of sale machines will also be moved to Linux, as will the servers running its stores and regional headquarters. The firm's large-scale data centre in Guernsey will be running Sun Solaris. It has also invested in an open source accounting package to run its financials outside the UK, which it is under an agreement not to name. The UK system won't change, said Khan, because he believed that "if it ain't broke, you don't fix it".

The firm will have an equal split of a third a-piece between in-house systems developed using open standards, open source systems, and a range of proprietary systems that adhere to open standards. The last component to go into the 600 UK stores will be a dispensing and collections system made from a jigsaw of in-house and open source pieces. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?