The use of open source by Germany's Foreign Ministry's makes its IT budget small in comparison with that of similar organisations, says Linbit, an Austrian provider of open source IT services. "It's IT budget is a quarter of that of the United Nations, an organisation of similar size."
The company says this comparison was made in an overview by Torsten Werner, responsible for the IT unit at the Foreign Ministry, in the 2007 German year book on open source.
The Foreign Ministry has implemented the company's open source high availability cluster solution, Linbit announced on 15 January. The high availability clusters developed by the company are installed in all the 230 embassies and consulates, based on GNU/Linux servers.
According to the company, migrating to open source enabled the Foreign Ministry's IT department to greatly reduce costs. "It is one of the most sensational success stories of the IT world."
The Foreign Ministry uses open source for both its back end and on the desktop. According to Linbit, in the back end the ministry employs Debian GNU/Linux servers.
The Foreign Ministry began migrating all of its 11,000 desktops to GNU/Linux in 2003. According to German diplomat Rolf Schuster, this has drastically reduced maintenance costs in comparison with other ministries. Speaking at the Open Source World conference in the city of Malaga, Spain, in October last year, he said: "The Foreign Ministry is running desktops in many far away and some very difficult locations. Yet we invest only one thousand euro per desktop per year. That is far lower than other ministries, that on average invest more than 3,000 euro per desktop per year."