30 Mar 2011

Continental Cost Savings - The French Police and Linux Ubuntu

If implemented intelligently the resultant cost savings from mainstream software licensing against an open platform can deliver quite substantial returns. The larger the organisation the greater the potential for reduced TCO and there can be no greater example of this than the on-going migration by the French 'Gendarmerie Nationale' (National Police Force), the results are quite amazing.

The Gendarmerie accountant had questioned the escalating requirement and related cost implications for Microsoft Office licenses and decided to give Open Office a spin, he found the program adequately covered their business needs and it all started there. Open Office was rolled out first followed by planned migration of the desktop OS from Windows XP to Linux Ubuntu. Combined inception of a web based core system meant local platform specifics at workstation level were open for any OS running a secure browser and the systems team opted for the cross-platform conformity of Mozilla Firefox, matched with Thunderbird e-mail for their IMAP mail platform.

The rollout began in earnest from 2004 and to date is saving €2 million per year. With a structured upgrade plan targeting 10,000 desktops during each twelve month period it is estimated that by 2015 the Gendarmerie will be running Ubuntu across 90% of their 85,000 PC's. As of 2009 they had already racked up savings in excess of €50 MILLION from previously expansive licensing and support costs.

Lieutenant-Colonel Xavier Guimard of the Gendarmerie presented a keynote speech at the annual  NOiV conference for open source standards in Utrecht, amongst an extensive breakdown of decisions for (and roadmap to) their adoption of open standards are some lateral points for anyone contemplating a similar strategy, reassuring and obvious comments (aside from the quite staggering cost savings) which should prompt anyone not to look too deeply into technicalities. Sometimes the most simple observations are the most poignant, in the words of Xavier himself -

“Moving from Microsoft XP to Vista would not have brought us many advantages and Microsoft said it would require training of users. Moving from XP to Ubuntu, however, proved very easy. The two biggest differences are the icons and the games. Games are not our priority.”

“Previously, one of us would be travelling all year just to install a new version of some anti virus application on the desktops in the Gendarmerie’s outposts on the islands in French Polynesia. A similar operation now is finished within two weeks and does not require travelling.”

“This year the IT budget will be reduced by 70 percent. This will not affect our IT systems.”

“Users need no training to use a web browser.”

In the evolving world of browser based application delivery from the cloud Linux is the cost effective King and a decision to adopt it will without a doubt reduce your IT expenditure, and as demonstrated here the bigger you are the more you’ll save. Amidst todays financial chaos everyone is looking for ways to save money which is why examples like this are welcome, reassuring, inspiring and why I write about them.

Story as reported on OSOR.eu - Click Here.
Expanded article on the Ubuntu Website - Click Here.

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