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Government Saves Billions Using Open Source Software. Really?

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(khess)
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I saw this article yesterday titled, "Study: Federal Gov't. Can Save Billions in IT Spending," and feel compelled to comment. The gist of the article is that by switching to open source software, like Linux and OpenOffice.org, the federal government would save billions of dollars in IT costs.

This is one for the "DUH!" category. It is such a "duh" moment for me that I feel like playing "Really" like Seth and Amy do on Saturday Night Live--so I think I will.

I read an article that the federal government could save billions in IT spending by using Linux and other open source software.

Really? Federal Government--you think you can just go saving billions of dollars by using open source software--really? That's shocking because it's only been around for about 20 years. Really.

Really? You think you can do a study exploring the pros and cons of using open source software and discover that the potential savings is $3.7 billion for using open source software, $13.3 billion by using virtualization and $6.6 billion using cloud computing's software as a service (Saas)--really? And how much did you pay for this stroke of genius and in-depth bit of research by MeriTalk.com? Really.

Really? You need a study like this to tell you the obvious--really? Seems to me that you could have gleaned this monumental reality check by READING MY BLOG here at DaniWeb. Really.

Really? Microsoft Federal CTO, Susie Adams would speak out against the use of open source software--though admitting that, in fact, the government can enjoy significant savings by using cloud computing and virtualization. Really.

Really? When, in fact, 99% of all cloud computing vendors use Linux-based virtualization for their cloud-computing solutions--including Amazon.com. Really.

And finally--really? It takes a significant economic disaster for the federal government to start looking for ways to save money? Really? Shouldn't our government do that anyway--to save taxpayer dollars for useful things like building bombs, building prisons and bailing out fiscally irresponsible companies? Really.

Consider this my bid to become the consultant to the federal government to show you how to do make this change--sans Microsoft.

Really.

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OlyComputers
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The government has used open source for years, Los Alamos started implementing Linux on their supercomputers (thousands of clustered nodes that used to use expensive Unix licenses) quite some time ago.

I'm a huge proponent of open source, but I know that in the current climate it's really only appropriate in technical environments. Everybody knows how to use Windows, and if every desk jockey in the US government needs 10 hours of IT help to save a $120 VLK license, you run into problems. The government, and most organizations, should be using open source for their backbone and certain mature open source applications (open office is a great example) in day to day operations. But the average office worker is not ready for Linux... It will scare them.

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khess
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You're right, I forgot about the Beowulf clusters up there in Los Alamos. When I think of Federal government, here in the states, I'm not generally thinking of those leading edge places like that. My head turns more toward Washington D. C., the Post Office, and others like that. The propellerheads at places like Los Alamos will always use the cool stuff.
BTW, I used to live in Santa Fe, NM and I love Los Alamos and White Rock. Los Alamos sits on the rim of a giant volcano--a very intriguing place to be sure. I wanted to open a tour business there because every day when I woke up and went to work my heart pounded at the sheer beauty and I never got tired of it. I would have been excited--almost giddy--showing people the cool stuff for their first time. It could well have been the elevation--Santa Fe sits at 7,000 ft above sea level.

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Salem
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Tax payers shell out lots of cash for s/w licenses from Microsoft.
Govt spots an opportunity to save cash, stops buying expensive licenses and goes open-source.
Profits at former multi-billion dollar companies plunge.
Former multi-billion dollar companies with a now broken business model for the new world go cap-in-hand for a bail-out.
Tax payers shell out lots of cash to - well, you know the story by now.

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Bobber47
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Salem -
I presume you're not advocating public support of badly run companies in order to generate jobs and tax dollars. That's what the bailouts appear to be to some, but these are just another example of govt subsidizing industry to generate theoretically greater rewards. Though the consequences are dire either way, hopefully we have chosen the cheapest solution. The argument for the banks would be they aren't readily replaceable in the short-term, whereas MS is pretty disposable ~immediately. Less money to MS means more money to other IT companies like hardware and Saas support. Rather than spending on a PC + MS tax, spend it on a better PC. Or spend it on a faster ISP, or on more effective support staff. Or, if you're the govt on the taxpayers or reduced taxes - take your pick. We're best off cutting our losses as soon as possible.

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Techwriter10
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Great post, Ken. Loved it. Nice job.

Ron

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woooee
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Don't forget that the NSA maintains SELinux (maybe someone should tell the British Navy). I would guess that a study is the first step in the process towards moving away from expensive, proprietary software. A member of Congress would not really stand up and say "I think we might save a few bucks if..", but would say "This official study by an officially recognized studier says...".

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nmstategov
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Government workers (especially those in State/Local govenments) are generally not the most tech-savvy, so the issue of having to spend more supporting OS desktop users vs MS desktop users is a wash - doesn't matter what you give them, they'll still needs lots of hand-holding.
Can't understand why State/Local govts don't adopt OS? The obvious - using free software doesn't garner much in the way of political campaign $$ !!!!

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