Australian Governments are Microsoft locked.

Story: My government is software-stupidTotal Replies: 8
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Nov 03, 2012
6:33 PM EDT
Not only are the relevant government IT departments staffed by those who demonstrate a proficiency in Microsoft, there are also active Microsoft moles ensuring that ONLY, repeat ONLY Microsoft products are purchased when contracts are up for re-negotiation.

The thought that Linux based software can do the same jobs for much less does not even come vaguely into their minds and the moles ensure that if anybody puts up a submission that Linux might be the better alternative, then barriers are put in the way to make very sure that the submission is rubbish tinned. I know about that last one, because it happened to me here in Queensland.

Australian governments are locked onto Redmond products. There is little actual government impetus at any level of minister or parliamentary members to change this utterly expensive and ridiculous situation. Part of the problem is that most of the parliamentarians and departmental heads are computer illiterate. They can push buttons A and B and therefore consider they know all about driving a PC, but in fact most of them are at the "monkey-see and monkey-do" stage. The best example is our Federal Communications Minister who sincerely believed that pornography and paedophilia could be stopped absolutely by imposing internet filters at the ISP level. He was ridiculed world wide but it demonstrated very clearly that the man responsible for Australia's internet communications has no idea as to how the internet actually operates.

The one big wild factor is the coming generation who are locked on Android.......they know what FOSS can do and they like it. But it is going to be slow and steady. It will happen though and Redmond will ultimately lose control.....thank goodness.

Nov 03, 2012
9:00 PM EDT
While it might be true that some government dept's are locked into MS products, the same could be said if they used Linux products. If your support / engineering staff are all trained in Red Hat for example, you are hardly going to look at using Microsoft products. And that is purely from a business point of view. The cost of training and re-training staff to use products that they and the business aren't familiar with is pretty high, not to mention the risks it imposes on the business. Personally, I think it makes sense to stick with what you know. Fortunately, I work for a government dept. where anything of actual importance is running on RHEL. Sure there is the odd windows box here and there but they are certainly the exception and not the rule (think vCenter)

It's also a bit of a myth that using Linux based software is always going to be cheaper. I can definitely say that Linux is NOT cheap! Sure, a business could go and use CentOS and not pay anything for the actual software but that sort of arrangement doesn't fly in the business world. Business's need reliable support for their OS's, and you gotta pay for that.

Linux is used for it's stability and reliability, provided it stays that way, it will be adopted by AU government little by little and the bean counters will pay for it :)

My 2 cents .....


Nov 03, 2012
9:40 PM EDT
@Hoani888.....I am extremely pragmatic. My laptop runs a mixture of pure openSUSE with various Winbased software running either in Crossover Office or on Wine....Not much of it, I will be the first to admit, but what Windows software I have installed is essential to my purposes.

The point I tried to make, obviously poorly because you didn't find it self-evident, was that Aust Govts are mentally blind to any alternatives to Winbased solutions, and there are people within those goverment IT bodies who quite seriously, literally and effectively ensure it stays that way. This is not good in anyone's perception. There are some things that Linux can do that Windows does only poorly: ask Google, all the 70% or more of Linux servers on the internet, the NY and London Stock Exchanges, the French police, Munich.....and the list is endless.

I have NO objections to a mixture of Windows and Linux software being used because the results are often better for business, especially if the firms run their Win boxes on a basic Linux server.......and I think you are right when you point out Linux' stability, reliability and the one thing you missed: much better security.

The door is open for debate on costs however. The transfer of the French police from Windows to Linux has saved them tens of millions of dollars per year and their experiences are mirrored all over the world where major transfers from Windows to Linux have occurred. The NY and London stock exchanges are also huge examples where lower costs, speed and security were so dramatically improved. (Microsoft biased people were so concerned about the London stock exchange duplicating the NY's exchange's excellent experience that articles emerged indicating that Microsoft oriented persons deliberately sabotaged the transfer - it went ahead anyhow.) Educational authorities are also finding out the huge cost benefits in moving to Linux. The Munich transfer has taken nearly a decade, and been slow, but they are in no doubt as to the cost benefits.

How much it costs is a matter of how you have your service contracts set up.....but there is also no doubt that it takes less service and fewer people to run Linux systems - or at least as far as the information I have obtained thus far suggests.

The closed oyster mentality of Aust Govts will be broken eventually, but Microsoft is doing everything it can to prevent's a nice market for them, isn't it ?

Nov 03, 2012
9:57 PM EDT

That's not what "lock-in" generally refers to.

"Lock-in" is when you can't switch (or at least face arbitrary additional expense and effort), because your data is in a proprietary format, and you don't know how to extract it/convert it to some reasonable format that other programs can use. "Lock-in" is when interfaces are non-standard or obscured, so that they must be reverse engineered before you can interface with an open, documented standard interface properly (or maybe even someone else's proprietary one). Etc, etc, etc.

That's one of the big real advantages of using open source -- if you want to change your software, the chief obstacle is your own willingness to implement the change (even if you need to learn some new things, to do so) rather than some proprietary vendor's willingness to let you change.

Nov 03, 2012
10:42 PM EDT
That's my fault BernardSwiss for being rather "loose" in my terminology. However, I'd suggest that our Aust Govts are "locked" in both senses: First that they cannot perceive that anything exists outside the Microsoft universe and are locked into that behaviour; and Second that they are locked onto the Microsoft and Winbased proprietary formats........Both perceptions apply.

Sorry about my lapse there and thankyou for sticking in the "take better care" pin.

It's a sign of advancing years..... :-)

Nov 04, 2012
12:11 AM EDT
@ Hoani888: I think you seriously oversimplify the case for an enterprise, be it a government or a business, finding a conversion from one OS to another being prohibitively expensive. I've participated in a few such migrations, generally Windows -> Linux and the cost/benefit analysis is a complex one. I don't think you can generalize the results in the way you have. There are just too many factors involved and retraining costs are just one piece of the puzzle. Licensing costs, which you mention in your reference to CentOS, are generally only a small factor when doing such an analysis for a big organization.

A factor you didn't include in your post are the savings in short term hardware costs if existing equipment can still run Linux very adequately but cannot do the same for Windows. Support costs are considerably more that just what you pay the OS vendor or a third party for direct OS support. For example, desktop support in Windows-centric organizations spends an inordinate amount of time dealing with malware which is endemic to Windows even when proper tools and precautions are taken. This simply isn't a big issue on Linux, at least so far. If personnel costs are reduced or, at the very least, if an organization can avoid increasing their payroll for support as demand grows you've positively impacted a much larger budget line item than direct support costs or one-time retraining costs.

FWIW, I work for a government contractor supporting a department of state government. We're a SUSE shop when it comes to Linux, but we also have Windows and some legacy Solaris and Netware. Linux has made serious inroads where I work, both in the server room and on the desktop, but there are powerful pressures pushing for Microsoft. In general I've seen lots of places where Redmond made Windows very attractive with cut rate pricing in the short term. Longer term they count on the sort of lock-in Ridcully describes to insure they can profit on the deal.

Nov 04, 2012
12:16 AM EDT
Ok, well I'm not going to debate the true meaning of "lock in". It could mean many things...... it's good to see we are having this conversation..... 15 or so years ago we were all smitten with the release of windows 95 and laughed at overpriced apple products( I still do actually) ...... my how the technology landscape changes.

Personally, I find MS server products to be black sheep's of the data centre these days. One thing that really annoys me is that every device in a data centre supports SSH connectivity EXCEPT the MS want me to use become fluent in Powershell Mr. Gates? Provide SSH out of the box!!! but that's for another conversation... :)

Cheerio all, apologies if I missed your point.


Nov 04, 2012
7:00 AM EDT
not only your gov is vendor locked-in ... look at this :

there is more if you search with the words 'vendor lock-in' here :

Nov 04, 2012
4:46 PM EDT
@henke54.....Why am I not surprised ? It's how proprietary companies work and was ever thus: make a product that you can almost give away, but then charge like heck for the consumables and extras that go with the product and are ONLY available from the company itself.

Gillette did it with razor blades and Microsoft does it with its software and formats. Apple is currently just about the pinnacle of this system - if you go Apple, you open your wallet and say to Cupertino: "Help yourself". And don't let's get started on printers and cartridges........sigh.

The starting solution, I think, is for these locked administrations to seriously consider moving to open formats for their data. Once they do that, the vendor lock-in problem should become less. Or am I being too simplistic ?

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