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DK: 25,000 hospital staff Copenhagen region to use open source office suite

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Almost all of the 25,000 workers at thirteen hospitals in the Copenhagen region will over the next year begin to use Libre Office, an open source suite of office productivity tools. The group of hospitals is phasing out a proprietary alternative, 'for long term strategic reasons', which at the same time saves the group some 40 million Kroner (about 5.3 million euro) worth of proprietary licences.

The ditching of the proprietary alternative is a consequence of the group's move to virtual desktops, allowing staff members to log in on any PC or thin client. The group found that deploying this new desktop infrastructure would "trigger unacceptably high costs" for proprietary office licenses, says Vivian Thomsen, responsible for IT at the group, quoted by the Danish IT news site Computerworld.

Even a single user of the proprietary office suite would force the group to purchase licences for all fifteen thousand desktop PCs. "We have spoken to the proprietary vendor about this for over a year, and they acknowledge the problem."

The hospital group will not move all of the users to Libre Office at once. The group will use its current ten thousand proprietary office licences until they run out. The group will renew some licences for 'heavy users', until further notice. Over time, says Thomsen, all of the staff will switch to Libre Office: "apart from those few with advanced spreadsheet tasks."

Some 2500 virtual desktops have been rolled out and a small number of the hospital workers is now testing Libre Office. According to Computerworld, Thomsen says the feedback so far is positive. "Although users are not keen to lose the familiar interface of the proprietary office suite." To overcome these hesitations, the hospital group is providing trainings.

 

Advanced features

Dagens Medicin, a news site for local and regional administrations, quotes Thomsen explaining that most of the hospital workers, doctors and nurses, will have little trouble using Libre Office. "Most of them do not need the advanced features of these suites."

Apart from the office suite, the group is using several other open source tools. It is using for example Apache Camel and JCaps to integrate its enterprise applications. "Naturally, one does not rush headlong into using open source within a hospital. We are not replacing the most critical systems, such as those for patient data.  But we are gaining experience by using open source in less critical areas."

Thomsen says it is not the group's intention to move to a complete open source IT environment. "There are plenty of good and important proprietary applications that we will continue to use."

The hospital group's IT manager says that one of the advantages of switching to free and open source software is that 'in many cases, the open source community is faster in fixing issues than proprietary vendors'.

 

Third largest project

The move is Europe's third largest migration project involving public administrations using an open source office suite. The largest is the French Gendarmerie, moving some 80.000 users to Open Office, a suite similar to Libre Office. Second largest is France's Caisse Nationale d'Allocations Familiales (CNAF), employing Open Office on about 36,000 desktops. The fourth largest is the ministry of Justice in Finland, where 10,000 staffers are using Open Office.

Closely involved in the project is the Danish open source IT service provider Magenta, that almost two years ago helped set-up and manage the first Libre Office pilot in the Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen. The company is also involved in training users in other hospitals and with the integration of Libre Office with reservation systems and ERP applications.

 

More information:

DK Nyt news item (in Danish)

Computerworld news item (in Danish)

Computerworld news item (in Danish)

Computerworld news item (in Danish)

Dagens Medicin news item (in Danish)