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EU Commission Study Finds You'll Save Money Switching to FOSS
Friday, January 12 2007 @ 02:50 AM EST

The EU Commission's Final Report on its "Study on the Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU" is now available on its policy documents, publications and studies page as a PDF.

I thought you'd be interested in the conclusion regarding total cost of ownership. Is it true that switching to Open Source will cost you more than staying with Windows, as Microsoft's "Get the Facts" page claims? No. The study found:

"Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports of savings on the long term costs of ownership of the software products."

But what about training costs? Doesn't that remove the benefits? No, the report found:

"Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and mainly are budgeted in less than one year."

So there you are.

Oh, and what about loss of productivity if you switch to OpenOffice.org? None:

"Our findings report no particular delays or lost of time in the daily work due to the use of OpenOffice.org.... OpenOffice.org has all the functionalities that public offices need to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations."

It has another advantage, the study found: it supports ODF:

"OpenOffice.org is free, extremely stable, and supports the ISO Open Document Standard."


Here's the relevant section with the conclusions of the study:

***************************

12.7. Conclusions Our analysis has been performed on six organizations in different European countries. The majority of them are public bodies. The organizations have followed different types of migration on the base of their context.

We have investigated the costs of migration, and the cost of ownership of the old and the new solution differentiating them between the costs of purchasing and the costs of ownership of the software solutions. Special attention has been put on the intangible nature of the costs. Costs have been classified in categories defined trough existing studies and selected by a top down approach called Goal Question Metric. This instrument has been also used to define the questionnaires used to collect the data.

Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports of savings on the long term costs of ownership of the software products.

Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and mainly are budgeted in less than one year. The major factor of cost of the new solution even in the case that the open solution is mixed with closed software is costs for peer or ad hoc training. These are the best example of intangible costs that often are not foreseen in a transition. On the other hand not providing a specific training may cause and adverse attitude toward the new technology. Fortunately those costs are limited in time and are not strictly linked to the nature of the new software adopted.

We also investigated the productivity of the employees in using Microsoft office and OpenOffice.org. Office suites are widely used and are a good test bed and representative for a comparison on issues like effort and time spent in the daily routine of work. Delays in the task deliveries may have a bigger impact than costs on the organization's management. Our findings report no particular delays or lost of time in the daily work due to the use of OpenOffice.org.

12.7.1. Considerations

With our analysis we achieve a good level of understanding of the costs, benefits and productivity of a transition. The following are the considerations we have drawn upon.

1. Before buying, upgrading proprietary office software one needs consider that:

OpenOffice.org has all the functionalities that public offices need to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations

Upgrading office programs is time-consuming and expensive. It requires installation time, potential document conversions, and new training. It also poses a risk because some documents containing code or macros may not be readable anymore

OpenOffice.org is free, extremely stable, and supports the ISO Open Document Standard.


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