Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

You Pays Yer Money and Takes Yer Chance?

| Comments

I love it when two mutually contradictory posts land in my reader. To be fair, you can argue that they are not, but then where would be the fun in that? 

Number One: Speedy Hire (UK equipment hire company) saved 1 million pounds by moving to Microsoft Everything from linux-based pcs running open office etc. 

Number Two: Massachusetts Geographic Information services have gone over to open source GIS to cut costs (amongst other benefits).

The first article is a fantastic piece of fluff, and it’s worth reading considerably deeper (ie the whole case study) rather than just relying on the press release. To put it briefly, Speedy Hire went from antiquated end-of-life pcs, with a non-gui order system that couldn’t be integrated with anything else,  and a custom-built email system. They didn’t have any decent internal IT support. Not only that, but they had recently acquired a bunch of other companies, and non of their systems were fully integrated either. So, they replaced all their pcs, put in the same software across all the depots/offices etc, and upgraded their order system. I would certainly hope for a decent return on that kind of investment, whether they chose Microsoft Everything or an open source solution. However, the article concetrates entirely on the lack of performance they had with their old system (blaming this on open source rather than because the pcs were antiquated), and the difficulty of opening documents in open office (we all know exactly how difficult that is). 

On the other hand, MassGIS are finding that they prefer the flexibility and capacity that going open source brings them, along with the enterprise-support they are getting from OpenGEO. Simply moving over to linux-based virtualisation products has allowed them to save considerable amounts of money, without taking (the lack of) licensing costs  into account.

I’m not naive, I know microsoft do this all the time, and the two case studies are not all that comparable, but it does make me mad to see this kind of whitewash going on, when it would better if we could see some genuine like-for-like comparisons.

Comments