The head of technology for a London council that scrapped Linux desktop trials in favor of Microsoft Corp. technology has denied that the organization used Linux to negotiate lower license fees but admitted it had a big influence.
It would be insane to claim otherwise, said Richard Steel, head of ICT at the London Borough of Newham, which last year scrapped plans to move to Linux on the desktop. It’s certainly creating a more competitive environment.
The council’s decision to sign a 5 million pound ($9 million) ten-year partnership with Microsoft has been a controversial one, not least since the apparently independent Capgemini SA study that prompted Newham’s decision to stick with Microsoft was funded by the software giant.
We obviously recognize that you could question the independence of a report funded by Microsoft, Steel said, pointing out that Microsoft had asked to commission the report from Capgemini in response to a report from UK-based open source consultancy Netproject that came up with open source as the best choice but highlighted the same problems.
Capgemini’s executive consultant, Leslie Burr, admitted that the open source software solution proposed by Netproject resulted in cheaper software costs but maintained that it would have been considerably more in terms of total cost of ownership.
Burr said Capgemini had compared total cost of ownership, transition costs and risks and security and found that while the open source solution would provide Newham with 1.6 million pounds ($2.9 million) in cost savings over five years, the Microsoft solution would save 3.2 million pounds ($5.9 million).
The Microsoft/Capgemini report was based on the same parameters and requirements as Netproject’s, added Geoff Connell, Newham’s development services manager. We defined what we needed in terms of business outcomes, he said.
Despite Netproject’s advice that open source would be the best solution to Newham’s needs, a key stumbling block was the council’s requirement to upgrade its Microsoft Exchange 5.5 server, an upgrade that was recommended by both Capgemini and Netproject, according to Connell.
That stumbling block prompted Newham to scrap its desktop Linux trials late last year, claiming that it was unable to afford the cost of the upgrade. Then Microsoft stepped in with better licensing terms and the ten-year partnership.