For the second time this year, an Italian public administration is ending its use of open source office productivity software. A source in the IT department of the Emilia-Romagna region confirmed to the Open Source Observatory last week that the region will end its use of OpenOffice. The region will move to a cloud-based proprietary office solution, others say.
The IT department has yet to respond to a request for comment sent recently. This news item will be updated as more information becomes available.
On 31 October, a press statement from the region’s councillor for the Digital Agenda, Raffaele Donini, mentioned the use of unspecified cloud solutions, which should reduce the number of pages printed by the administration each year by some 5 million. The switch would save EUR 700,000 per year.
Update: the region took its decision to switch to a cloud solution on 24 October.
The regional administration completed its switch to Apache OpenOffice in April last year. Emilia-Romagna had made the Open Document Format ODF the default on all of its 4200 workstations, across 10 departments and 5 agencies.
Talking about the switch, in a presentation at the 2015 Fosdem conference in Brussels, IT administrators warned they could face resistance from users. To help manage the change, the IT department had readied a team of support staff.
Earlier this year, the government of Italy's South Tyrol province decided to end its use of LibreOffice. At the time, South Tyrol Councillor Waltraud Deeg, responsible for the Department for Public Administration said: ”Our decision was not a choice between open source or not - we took a strategic decision to transfer basic services to cloud, with the aim of fostering a more efficient and up-to-date way of working. We are not about to buy licenses, but a service.”
“This news makes us sad”, said Sonia Montegiove, president of the LibreItalia free software advocacy group, a few days ahead of the group’s annual conference. “The decision by the region for a non-standard format and proprietary cloud solution will once again lock them in to a single vendor’s software and services. This is a lost chance for freedom and openness.”
She added that LibreItalia will contact the region’s Director General to ask about the mandatory comparative study between proprietary and open source alternatives. Such a study is required by the country's Codice Amministrazione Digitale.