Italians say goodbye to open source

barilla-mushroom-and-garlic-product-detail-pageThe local council in Pesaro, Italy has dumped the open saucy OpenOffice and gone back to the loving arms of Microsoft.

Between 2011 and 2014, Pesaro trained up its 500 employees to use OpenOffice. However, last year the organisation decided to switch back to Microsoft and use its cloud “productivity” suite, Office 365.

According to a recently published report from the Netics Observatory – commissioned by the municipality and Microsoft itself – the city administration saved up to 80 percent of the software’s total cost of ownership (which includes deployment, IT support, subscription plans cost, and other elements) using Office 365, compared to its previous setup.

The municipality’s head of the statistics and information systems department, Stefano Bruscoli said that the savings were due to the significant and unexpected deployment costs that the administration faced when it decided to rollout OpenOffice and abandon the on-premise version of Microsoft Office that it had used up until 2011.

“We encountered several hurdles and dysfunctions around the use of specific features. What’s more, due to the impossibility of replacing Access and partly Excel (various macros used on tens of files), we decided we had to keep a hybrid solution, using the two systems at the same time. This mix has been devastating,” he told the Italian press.

The Italians had to repaginate and tweak a number of documents due to a lack of compatibility between the proprietary and the open source systems translated into a considerable waste of time and productivity.

Pesaro estimates that every day roughly 300 employees had to spend up to 15 minutes each sorting out such issues.

With time and experience, these problems could be countered; still, they significantly affected the efficiency of Pesaro’s offices during the early phase of the rollout.

OpenOffice was slow when used to ‘call’ specific applications Pesaro used to manage its various departments. The IT support that had to be provided to employees further added to the migration bill.

Netics researchers estimated a yearly cost per user of €530.38 over a five-year period for the open source software, 93 percent of which came from deployment costs.

By contrast, for Office 365, the cost was €197.49 a year. According to the researchers, the lower figure is due to workers’ greater familiarity with a Microsoft working environment, and better compatibility with different file formats offered by the proprietary product.

The amount could be lower still if the savings from using Office 365’s communication and collaboration functionalities were included in the figure, the researchers say.

Using Skype for Business and Yammer, unnecessary spending on calls and business trips could be cut and the total cost per user per year could drop to €111.98.