Feeds

Bristol Council mulls mixed FOSS, Microsoft upgrade

One step back, two steps forward

The essential guide to IT transformation

A Bristol City councillor is trying to convince the council’s cabinet to adopt open source software alongside Microsoft’s Office and Windows 7.

The council has been seen as something of a poster child for open source public sector contracts in the past. In November 2004 it declared plans to shift 5,000 workers off proprietary desktop software over to Sun Microsystem’s StarOffice 7, in a move it said at the time would save £1.4m by 2009.

One year on from that move, the council is now mulling ways to replace its ageing desktop software and collaboration software in a project estimated to cost £1.5m over the next five years.

On 30 September Bristol City councillors will be asked to adopt a proposal, steered by UK open source consultancy outfit Sirius Corporation, to “commit resources” for FOSS tech.

But sadly for the council, and the UK open source community at large, Bristol can’t ditch Microsoft completely yet.

“This is a pragmatic proposal that delivers more key functions through open source products, but appreciating that much of the core desktop toolset and operating system still needs to use Microsoft technology,” said Bristol City cabinet member Mark Wright.

“The trouble has been that external partners have not kept pace with open source solutions, so we find ourselves having to take this compromise, but hopefully only in the short term. The proposed licensing arrangements will enable an exit point after three years should the move to a full open source environment be feasible.”

He said the council, whose IT service director Paul Arrigoni recommended the mixed open source and proprietary software setting, would try to convince its partners to push the open agenda without cutting the council off from the outside world.

“By also installing the free OpenOffice suite on every council PC we will ensure that no partner organisation that makes the jump to OpenOffice will be afflicted with compatibility problems when they share documents with us,” said Wright.

“So we are taking a different angle in promoting open source solutions. To me this feels like one step back, two steps forward. I’m hoping for the coalition government progressing policy quickly in this area, so that our decisions in three years’ time will be easier.”

The Sirius Corp’s boss, Mark Taylor, described the proposed tech compromise at Bristol City Council as “groundbreaking”, despite it remaining tied to Microsoft software.

“Bristol City Council's approach to open source is well thought through, realistic and pragmatic. It shows a thorough understanding of both the capabilities of open source software, and the limitations of the current stage of adoption in the UK Public Sector as a whole,” he noted. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report
Development alliance working on desktop, mobe software
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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?