Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Open source? Or not? Or Not in Newham anyway

Intriguing piece in Kable that says Newham have pulled out of a PoC to evaluate open source on the desktop, because the scale of the project was too big for them to handle (and that appears to be a direct quote from the IT head there). Making a move to a new desktop across the organisation would be a big deal and involve a lot of effort from the team so I can understand the reluctance, but the absence of data on how such a move could be achieved is hurting the public sector generally I think. There are still another 8 PoCs in the OGC list, so there is still time to get data. One of the things I've wanted to do for a while is run three desktops in parallel - SunRay (thin client), Open Source and Windows - perhaps on 3 floors in one building or in three teams handling the same functions in three departments and see how it worked out. Keeping the numbers down to maybe 20-30 people would reduce the support overhead and probably allow a relatively quick implementation. I think it would be fascinating to compare not just the cost dynamics but also how people felt about each platform and how they used them differently (for instance, would productivity be up? Would people spend more time surfing on a browser-based platform like a thin client, or less time?)

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