Open source's value and quality is the main reason for Dutch municipalities to switch to this type of software, says Willem van Uijthoven, IT manager for the municipality of Rheden. "The government's policies and projects on open source have made us more aware of its benefits."
Van Uijthoven says that the country's policy on open source also got companies to start offering service and support. "We need to be able to rely on such external support. IT is not our core business and we absolutely do not want to develop our own solutions."
The municipality is slowly replacing more and more of its proprietary applications with open source alternatives. Only a few weeks ago it finished a migration to OP5, an open source network monitoring tool. It uses this to monitor its IT systems, including availability reports generated on some 250 devices.
It also recently began using a storage solution (SAN), running the Nexenta open source operating system and using several other open source tools, including back-up solution Amanda.
The administration of the municipality, with a population of 44 thousand, in 2010 replaced a proprietary email and groupware server by Zarafa, an open core alternative. Zarafa is used by the administration's five hundred users. "Overall this is an excellent solution. We chose it over its proprietary competitor because of the lower price and its ease of maintenance. We are not the only municipality that switched because of this. Others include Ede, Renkum, Woerden, Hilversum and Winterswijk."
Before publishing the call for tender, the municipality tried out Zarafa, to test the impact of a migration. Afterwards, in its call for tender the administration specifically mentioned it would award extra points to open source alternatives.
This year, Rheden used a similar award criteria to make sure its SAN would enable open source solutions providers to respond, Van Uijthoven says. "We requested the software licence to allow transfer of the solution and licence to a different public administration. The licence must accommodate our current work to increase sharing of IT resources with neighbouring municipalities."
Van Uijthoven says that Rheden likes using open source but above all, is a proponent of open standards. "These we will include in all our IT procurements."
The municipality investigated if it could replace its proprietary office suite by an open source alternative. "On paper is seemed possible, but some of the business applications we use did not sufficiently support the open source alternative, which left us no choice. However, we provide all the staffers with OpenOffice, alongside the proprietary suite."
Press release on the migration to Zarafa (in Dutch)