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Germany's public authorities moving to open source mail and groupware

2.67/5 | 3 votes |

An increasing number of public administrations in Germany are replacing the ubiquitous proprietary email, calendaring and groupware solution with a Dutch-German open source alternative Zarafa, says Helmuth Neuberger, chief executive for Zarafa Deutschland. "We now have more than 140 German public administrations that use our solution, including the top government offices, many municipalities, a lottery, a public swimming pool and an environmental agency."

On the federal level examples are the Agency for Civic Education, the competition authority (Bundeskartellamt) and the Commissioner for Data Protection. Among the local and regional administrations that use the open source solution are district of Lindau, city council of Füssen and the provincial government of Brandenburg.

Neuberger says that one in ten of Zarafa's customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are public administrations. Many of these are recent converts, he says, which is why he can't disclose their names.

He points instead to the National Library in Vienna, which has been using Zarafa for six years. The library's use of the email and calendaring suite was described in an article by the German IT news site Computerwoche last week.

Neuberger says that the National Library uses Zarafa to service its fifteen offices and is used by all of its 1600 users. The server is integrated in a proprietary solution for directory services. And, reports Computerwoche, Zarafa works 'surprisingly well' on mobile devices.

The IT news site quotes Walter Zabel, the library's head of IT: "Mobile devices do not play a huge role for our library, but where they are used, integration was easy and gave us no problems. It confirms that we should stick to our approach." The head of IT explains that he considers Zarafa's future development to be sustainable because it is open source: "Even though it is not open source the full 100 percent."

More information:
Computerwoche news item (in German)
The Austrian National Library


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Thomas Jensch
Posted by Thomas Jensch on October 29, 2012 at 13:10

"Even though it is not open source the full 100 percent."

Isnt that called 'Open Core' nowadays? IMHO this is just short for "stay proprietary on the desktop and use a cheap Exchange clone on the Linux-Servers". A road I hardly can call sustainable and vendor independent.
Georg Greve, founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, blogged about this "bridge leading to nowhere" some time ago. Quite an interesting read and much more elaborate than this short comment.