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UK Government Gets More Serious About GNU/Linux Migration

Tower bridge at night



Summary: Microsoft gradually loses control of the British public sector

AS PROMISED last night, here is a status update about the UK government and Microsoft. With BECTA out of the way, things improve rapidly. First of all, Richard Steel, the "Everything Microsoft" CIO from London, decided to retire early (having been exposed and publicly humiliated [1, 2]) and now comes this similar story from the London Stock Exchange. "London Stock Exchange CTO leaves during move to Linux," reports IDG.



It is unclear whether Paine's departure is connected to the change of operating system – Paine was notably instrumental in bringing a major Microsoft-based platform to the LSE. That platform, called TradElect, experienced a number of serious glitches.

In a 2007 interview, Paine said: “We looked at their (Microsoft's) whole suite of technology from their development environment through to their databases and operating systems, and we decided that their technology was best aligned to achieving this range of design principles”

The TradElect platform was abandoned after the series of outages, one of which lasted all day and led to traders storming out of the building in protest. The LSE is moving to a Linux and Sun Solaris-based Unix platform, which uses an Oracle database.

Last July, the London Stock Exchange indicated that it was moving to the new platform and bought the IT services and software company, MillenniumIT, to help it achieve its aim. Earlier this month, the LSE announced that the rollout of the new system had been delayed by two months for further testing.


We wrote about LSE in [1, 2, 3, 4].

Brian Proffitt, formerly the managing editor of Linux Today, goes further and explores the situation with regards to calls for the UK government to move to GNU/Linux. Microsoft UK has responded to this:

Microsoft UK: Don't Cave to UK Survey's Linux 'Suggestions'



[...]

Well, you know what? Don't do it. Let the UK government convert to Linux and open source software. Call their bluff, and let them deploy software that is cheaper, faster, and more secure. Don't cave to those tricky politicians' sneaky attempts to shake you down. Stand firm on your bottom line, and reap the profit margin you so clearly feel you deserve.

That'll fix 'em.

After all, what do you have to lose? You and your bosses in Redmond have repeatedly said Microsoft products are superior to open source applications and operating systems in every way, so you'd teach those government paper-pushers a thing or two when they actually deployed Linux. I mean, you're not worried that they might find out something different, are you?


As a follow-up, Proffitt writes about the UK National Open Centre:

After taking the opportunity to tease Microsoft's UK division last week, I found myself wondering, whatever happened to the UK's National Open Centre?

It was a bit of a circuitous path to get to this question, and a little bit of a winding path to get to the answer.

What started all this was the release of a survey from the Spending Challenge, an austere budget program from Her Majesty's Treasury. The first-phase results of the survey was public-sector workers asked for ways to save money in the UK budget.

The survey results were a sampling of the nearly 60,000 ideas that were turned into the HM Treasury office... 31 suggestions that were, according to the post, "... not ideas that have been shortlisted for further work or implementation but they will all be considered individually alongside the other 60,000 ideas that have been put forward."

[...]

Much ado was made about NOC, which held a Feb. 2007 launch event at the Houses of Parliament, where Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh caused a stir with his comments regarding open source's tenuous status in government.

"Open source has enemies, and its enemies are very, very close to government," Pugh said at the time.


Here is John Pugh grilling the MSBBC over the Microsoft deal. He did a fine job.

This whole thing just happens to come at a time when Microsoft's relationship with the NHS is on the rocks and The Register explains why:

Software licensing in the National Health Service is about to get a lot more complicated, and a lot more expensive.

Back in 2004 the Office of Government Commerce signed a massive deal with Microsoft to provide all desktop software within the NHS. This followed some very high-level lobbying from both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer when it looked like the health service might ditch Microsoft from desktop PCs.

But the NHS enterprise agreement has now been scrapped. A message on the relevant page of the Microsoft website says: "We are currently updating these pages to reflect new licensing information as of May 2010. Please check back shortly."


"Excellent news: couldn't come at a better time," says Glyn Moody regarding this news and adds that "Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust chooses Koha supported by PTFS Europe"

The library at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has chosen the Koha open source library management system to replace its existing Unicorn system. PTFS Europe are carrying out the initial implementation and providing ongoing support. The system is hosted at the PTFS Europe data centre in Maidenhead.

Koha Library Management System

With Koha, library staff access to the system is completely web-based; acquisitions, circulation, cataloguing, serials and reports are all done through a web browser. As well as an excellent search engine the OPAC offers a range of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 facilities such as tagging, commenting and public and private lists. Koha can also integrate with the ArchivalWare digital library as well as other link resolution services.


The Register posted this update regarding the NHS just the following day:

End of Microsoft NHS deal means mass deletions



[...]

Microsoft has warned any NHS worker who took advantage of the huge discounts available for installing MS Office at home that they must now delete the software.

The NHS used to buy its software from Microsoft as part of an Enterprise Agreement. One of the advantages of this purchasing procedure, apart from costing less, was that NHS nurses and doctors or other staff could buy a copy of Microsoft Office to use at home for the not-so-princely sum of €£8.95.

[...]

Virtual Desktop Access and Office Roaming must also be switched off.


Great news. Go for it. Before Ballmer packs up his suitcase.

"Nobody makes any decisions without checking with me first. If you're going to change any of the interfaces or anything for that matter, you have to talk to me in order to get them approved. We'll improve communications this way."

--Steve Ballmer

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