The Dutch Patent Office (Octrooicentrum Nederland) last week began a project that will replace a large part of its proprietary IT systems with Open Source alternatives.
On Thursday, the organisation presented its new website, built on Joomla, an Open Source content management system. "By the end of 2009, the entire office environment, including desktop computer systems and the relationship management system will be running on the basis of Open Source software", the Patent Office said in a statement.
In a document published on the new website, Tjeerd van der Laan, head of the IT department, explains that the future desktop at the Patent Office will mix Open Source and proprietary software. One by one, proprietary applications will be replaced by Open Source alternatives.
A complete Open Source desktop is not possible, he adds, as the organisation is dependent on a number of proprietary applications. The new desktop will be built on top of the GNU/Linux and Microsoft operating systems. "Our biggest challenge is to make sure that the end-user experiences it as a single desktop, and is not forced to log off and on repeatedly."
The use of Open Source is making it easier to try out new applications, says Van der Laan. "Our IT department can offer new functionality quicker than before. We used to spend three months to tender a new website. [With Open Source] we have it up an running in less than a month." However, savings made on software licences will be offset by extra costs for migration, he expects.
The Patent Office is the first government organisation to migrate a major part of its IT systems to Open Source. This switch was first announced in September of last year, when Minister for Foreign Trade Frank Heemskerk presented his plans to increase the government's use of Open Standards and Open Source.