Bristol City Council Saves with ODF

Not a new story, but a little bit more detail about Bristol City Council's move to StarOffice, the non-freebie version of

Bristol City Council's switch to StarOffice in 2005 has led to a major reduction of IT costs, says Gavin Beckett, the council's ICT Strategy manager.

StarOffice is Sun Microsystems' proprietary suite of office applications, which is based on the Open Source OpenOffice. In 2006 Bristol took the further step of adopting the ISO-approved Open Document Format (ODF).

Speaking at a conference on ODF in the Netherlands last month, Beckett said that implementing StarOffice for 5,500 desktops in Bristol saved 1.1 million GBP (1.4 million euro) in comparison to the total cost of implementing Microsoft Office. "The licences for StarOffice cost us 186,000 GBP (243,000 euro), in comparison to 1.4 million GBP (1.8 million euro) for MS Office."

These major savings were offset slightly by extra time needed for implementing StarOffice. Implementation cost the city council 484,000 GBP (632,000 euro), double the estimate for MS Office. This was due to document conversion and training, said the IT Strategy manager. Explaining and troubleshooting the new office applications took several months more than planned.

But along with the good news, comes the following bad news:

"Our biggest challenge is that many of our business system suppliers and service delivery partners use Microsoft formats and applications." Many of the applications made by these companies use Microsoft's Visual Basic programming language to enable integration with office software. "We need to convince them to invest in support for ODF, but that has been an uphill battle for the last three years. Some of these companies simply refused to support ODF."

Tut-tut. Come on business system suppliers and service delivery partners: you must try harder.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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