Lodahl's blog: How can we make sure that the spirit in B 103 is being fulfilled ?

22 June 2007

How can we make sure that the spirit in B 103 is being fulfilled ?

How can we make sure that the spirit in B 103 is being fulfilled ?

The situation is that the public Denmark must use either the open ODF or EOOXML from Microsoft. On thing is for sure: Microsoft will do what they can to keep their marked share around the 98% for Office suites. We can expect to a continuous stream of misleading information and threads about what will happen, if ODF gets popular.

The two reports from Ramboell Management, that unfortunately is still used for decisions, gives the impression, that EOOXML is cheaper to implement than ODF. This might be right on the short lane. But if we open our minds for a little large perspective, ODF will be much cheaper. Furthermore we will see the positive side effect in society like more competition in the marked place. When the IT-manager in a local city is sitting looking at his one-year budget, he will probably not find money for long-term thinking. The budgets is simply too small for that. And it is not a job for that local IT-managers to deal with society matters. His job is to keep the majors office running. The situation is that long-term investments is to be funded by one-year budgets. This dilemma will of cause meen that the investment is not done or at least only done in a very small scale. There isn't money for more.

One solution to that could be, to offer some kind of financial support, where each authority can fetch funds to cover the initial cost by implementing ODF. Unfortunately this is actually against the words in B 103 because the resolution itself must be cost neutral. But we have seen some attention on this problem from the politicians lately, so something indicates that the politicians continues to support the spirit in the resolution.

This is not enough form my point of view ...

Open source doesn't work in the same way as conventional customer-vendor software. Vi are dealing with a slightly different business model. IT-managers and the vendor usualy sign a contract with the description of what the vendor should deliver, and how much money the customer should pay. When we move in to the area with open source, we must consider a few other parameters. It's very important that buying software is done on the right basis, and from my opinion it's also important that those who buy software is aware of this. Otherwise, we will surely see more damaged projects in the future. The different manuals from the National IT- and Tele Agency on IT purchase, e.g. the publication "Modenhed i IT-baserede forretningsprojekter" doesn't take other purchase models in to consideration. Only the traditional customer-vendor model is covered. The public authorities has none, or only very limited knowledge about the special culture in the open source communities. The National IT- and Tele Agency has only limited material on the subject under the project softwareboersen (The software bourse).

These aspects has only been covered superficial by the National IT- and Tele Agency, that in fact can end up be a hinder to successful implementation of pilot projects in the coming years. The overall used business model (customer-vendor) is not to be used in such projects because it actually hinders fully outcome of whats special in open source: The community.

An example from Norway...
In Norway, three Fylkeskommuner (like regions) has hires two people to develope a norwegian linux distribution for educational purpose (www.skolelinux.no). This project has reached results like a complete translation of OpenOffic.org into two Norwegian dialects as well as both spell checking and thesaurus of high quality. In the Norwegian project, the vendors (Fylkeskommuner) has especially weighted language very high.

I don't think we should use exactly the same model in Denmark, but this is a good example of the fact, that by taking responsibility for a project, the public authorities can get influence on the results. And this without higher costs than with traditional purchase. In the Norwegian project, the choice of project was deliberate.

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