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Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 08:01 AM EST

You know how Microsoft FUD hammers home the idea that total cost of ownership of using GNU/Linux is higher than with Windows, because of needing to train administrators? Well, look at this EU FLOSSpols survey of FLOSS use by 955 European local governments, which found that "FLOSS users administer 35% more PCs per IT administrator than non-users – FLOSS use appears to reduce administrator workload per PC, and IT departments with high workloads are more likely to want a future increase in FLOSS use." The survey was done in March of 2005.

So even if everything Microsoft and buddies said were true, it appears that it would be a one-time expense that, once resolved, leads to perpetual savings thereafter, because you'll need fewer administrators, as they have less to do and so can administer more PCs. And there are administrators already trained and available.

What? Microsoft didn't tell you that part? This makes perfect sense to me, because it matches my personal experience, switching from Microsoft Windows to GNU/Linux. There was an initial adjustment, but not huge, thanks in my case to Mandriva and Knoppix, but the relief from not having to deal with all the malware and endless problems was palpable. Some other findings as you read on.

It was interesting to see that some use FLOSS but don't know it, not realizing, for example, that Apache is Open Source. The other findings:

  • Roughly half (49%) of local government authorities report some intentional use of FLOSS. However, a large additional population (29%) reports using FLOSS software, such as GNU/Linux, MySQL or Apache, but are unaware that these are FLOSS.
  • Within organisations, partial use on servers dominates (40%) followed by partial use on desktops (16%). 20% experiment in pilot projects. Complete use is very rare, whether on desktop or server.

  • Demand exists: 70% of FLOSS users and 38% of non-users want to increase FLOSS use. Awareness of FLOSS leads to increased willingness to use it regardless of current use/non-use.

  • More than a fifth of those wanting to increase FLOSS use want a complete migration to FLOSS.

  • Perceived advantages of FLOSS include: customisation and the ability to combine it with existing proprietary systems. Barriers perceived by non-users include cost of training and being the first among peer organisations to adopt FLOSS. The experience of current users leads them not to see such barriers, and to appreciate the advantages more strongly than non-users.

  • Organisations valuing interoperability are much more likely to increase FLOSS use.

  • For non-users, who are more likely to use external maintenance services, a sense of vendor dependency and the need to customise software are strong drivers to future FLOSS use.

  • Small budgets lead to “unaware” FLOSS use rather than intentional use or non-use of FLOSS.

  • Licence fees account for 20% of IT budgets. Half of all respondents find this too high. This perception leads to increased future FLOSS use, especially among current non-users.

You can get the survey and policy paper, "Results and policy paper from survey of government authorities", as a PDF, if you prefer, here.


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