The government of Portugal wants to increase its use of open source ICT solutions and open ICT standards, aiming to rationalise its IT and reduce costs, says André Vasconcelos from the Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA). "To allow comparing open source and proprietary solutions, we'll make it compulsory to calculate the TCO over 4 years, including for maintenance, licences, migration and productivity."
Last week Thursday, Mr Vasconcelos spoke at the Evento Linux conference, which took place in Lisbon. He said a pilot by Portugal's General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC) shows that a switch can cut IT costs by half (to 169,000 from 329,000 euro per year) and reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by 84 %, including an estimate of the cost of licences.
IGAC is using open source in many parts of its IT infrastructure, including for servers, desktops, email, authentication and security. Its servers for instance are based on Red Hat Linux. The inspection is also using Samba to provide file and print services, and Zimbra for its e-mail server. The organisation has 124 workstations running Ubuntu Linux. Its civil servants use web browser Mozilla Firefox, e-mail client Mozilla Thunderbird and calendaring plug-in Mozilla Lightning, office productivity suite LibreOffice, desktop publishing solution Scribus and project management tool OpenProject.
A second pilot project is progressing at the High Commissioner for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue (Acidi), which also uses Zimbra for email, but manages 210 proprietary desktops and uses proprietary directory services.
Various ministries and government organisations are implementing or preparing plans to switch to open source desktops. The Central Hospital of the city of Oporto and the Regional Health Administration for Portugal's Northern Region (ARS Norte) are currently implementing open source desktops. The Foundation for National Scientific Computing and the Foundation for Science and Technology are using OTRS for its IT helpdesk and IT service management.
These public administrations will be sharing their good practices and provide visibility to the qualified companies that support open source solutions, Mr Vasconcelos said on Thursday. "Now that open source is also a solution, we can renegotiate prices with the main proprietary vendors." Price negotiations with one proprietary vendor already lead to savings of 3 million euro per year, he said.
The success of Portugal's open source and open standards strategy would depend on communication, Vasconcelos said. "There is widespread ignorance about the alternatives to proprietary software." Surveys among the country's public administrations show that open source is used for less than four percent of applications. "That means there is a lot of room for growth."
He announced plans to disseminate success stories and reports to all public administrations, for workshops targeting public administrations and the dissemination of information, using the softwarepublico.gov.pt portal. "We'll be monitoring the implementation of open source by the ministries, and we'll come up with incentives and recommendations to involve civil servants."