Public administrations that switch to free and open source software can expect a large reduction of their ICT costs, a study published on Joinup shows. The annual ICT costs for the Dutch municipality of Ede are now 24% lower than its peers. "Most of this reduction can be explained by Ede's extremely low spend on software licenses: only 56 euros per full-time equivalent employee instead of 731 euros. Such a large reduction was achieved by moving from proprietary to open source software."
The municipality is running dozens of open source solutions, including LibreOffice, Zarafa+webmail, Firefox, TYPO3, zaaksysteem.nl, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Nagios, and Asterisk. Most of the city's servers are running Suse Linux. "All systems are virtualised, so it's very easy to create a new one. We can have a new Linux server up and running in an afternoon — and it's free — so we do it all the time."
"The savings we achieved are huge", the study quotes Bart Lindeboom, director for Computerisation and Automation. The savings are cut from the IT department budgets and given back to the citizens. "It's not up to me to allocate municipal resources. Maybe these savings are badly needed to finance local care. That's the responsibility of the city's Board of Aldermen."
The town is using Firefox as the standard web browser. The study shows this decision proved useful to remove lock-ins to a ubiquitous proprietary browser. Dependencies on this deliberately non-conforming browser allow companies to piggyback their lock-in strategy, the study reports. That the most-used open source browser is available on open source and proprietary operating systems, is another major reason. "That gives me the freedom to choose the platform I prefer, and I have to train the users only once."
Using the open source Asterisk software-based telephony server and mobile telephony apps, have made Ede almost independent of the traditional speech networks (landlines and mobile). The telephone server costs only one third as much as a traditional or branded alternative. "The city can now buy whichever smartphones it prefers instead of proprietary compatible phones that cost twice as much", the study reports.
Civil servants working for the town's administration are slowly being pushed and lured into the open source-based environment. For example, new functionality is only made available in this environment. "Our strategy is to gently push our users in this direction. You can use the proprietary office solutions at your workplace, for example, but not from home because of the license costs involved. LibreOffice, however, is offered at both locations. So a lot of interface and conversion issues are solved if you start using LibreOffice at work too. We now see our users moving away from the proprietary office suite."