Austin Considers Open Source Software

Link: Austin tests desktop Linux waters.

Two words that make any technology manager tremble: software audit. These audits examine every computer with a fine-toothed comb, ensuring every installed program is properly licensed. It's tough to assure absolute compliance across hundreds (or thousands) of desktop machines, and the penalties for unlicensed software can be severe.

Over a year ago, the City of Austin encountered this nightmare. Microsoft held out the threat of a software audit. Some cities, such as Houston, have responded to the threat by switching to another vendor. Austin, instead, ponied up for a pricey enterprise license.

Open source advocates, myself included, were disappointed by this move. It turns out, maybe it was a shrewd step. The enterprise license allowed the city to buy compliance and breathing room. The city has been using that time to evaluate open source alternatives. Their finding: many desktops could run just fine on open source software.

When Microsoft came to the city, there was little choice: either pay through the nose or enter a protracted battle. When the current enterprise agreement terminates at the end of 2004, the city will be in a much better position. Even if there are only nominal open source deployments, the city is in a significantly stronger position to negotiate better license terms with Microsoft.

That's open source at its best: restoring competition to the software marketplace.

Comments

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re: Austin Considers Open Source Software

And so Microsoft shoots itself in the foot. Classic!

re: Austin Considers Open Source Software

A bad corn promise is better than a good lawsuit