‘The longer you use open source, the more you save’
Switching to open source means an end to the recurring charges from proprietary software vendors, says Eric Ficheux, change management specialist at Nantes Métropole, France’s 6th largest city. “The total cost of ownership of LibreOffice is far lower than of its proprietary predecessor”, he says.
In April, Nantes Métropole completed the switch to LibreOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools. LibreOffice is used on all of the city’s 5,000 workstations (PCs and laptops). The switch has lowered the city's IT costs by EUR 1.6 million. “That is an instant return on investment (ROI)”, says IT project manager Ficheux. LibreOffice will continue to save the city EUR 260,000 per year. “The longer you use open source, the more you save”, he said.
The change manager talked about the city's migration to LibreOffice at the LibreOffice conference, in Brno (Czech Republic) last month.
Ficheux emphasised that public administrations switching to free and open source should take their responsibility towards sustaining the free software communities seriously. Concretely, to help keep LibreOffice up to date, fix bugs and add new features, the city has decided to budget EUR 30,000 per year, or 11% of its savings. “This also helps to anchor the application in the organisation, and increases adoption”, he said.
Purchasing open source development is very different from regular software, Ficheux says. “One must care about getting things done, and make sure contributions are in the upstream community version.” Public administrations should also be aware of intellectual property rights. Such questions are dealt with in an advisory report, compiled by France’s Ministry of the Economy in 2014. The report includes templates to be used by procurement officers when requesting free software-based ICT solutions, as well as samples of intellectual property clauses.