The French city of Toulouse has migrated all its desktops to LibreOffice and saved €1 million ($1.34 million) in the process.More and more European cities are moving away from proprietary solutions to open source software in order to save money and to encourage people to use free applications. Cities from Germany, Italy, and Portugal made some very difficult choices and managed to adopt various open source solutions.
Getting rid of proprietary software and installing a free application might seem simple enough, but in fact there are also some costs that need to be taken into consideration. If the city of Toulouse was using Microsoft Office, for example, all they had to do in order to get a new version was to pay for the updates and that would be pretty much it.
When you adopt a new software, you don't just replace one program with another. You also need to train the people who are working with it and teach them how to take advantage of another office suite. In this case it's LibreOffce. It might provide some of the basic functionalities, but if you want to perform some more complex tasks, it might not work the same way as Microsoft Office.
“Moving to LibreOffice is one of the key projects in the city's IT strategy. Currently several thousand people out of the 10,000 who work for the city and Toulouse Métropole use LibreOffice daily. The migration started in 2012, following the political decision in 2011. The switch took a year and a half, and 90 per cent of the desktops now run LibreOffice,” notes an article posted on the European Commission website.
“Software licenses for productivity suites cost Toulouse 1.8 million euro every three years. Migration cost us about 800,000 euro, due partly to some development. One million euro has actually been saved in the first three years. It is a compelling proof in the actual context of local public finance,” also says Erwane Monthuber, the person responsible with Toulouse's IT policy.
The news about Toulouse adopting LibreOffice arrives only a couple of days after a very interesting development that took place in the UK, where the government chose to adopt the ODF format as its standard, which is handled natively by LibreOffice.
This movement against Microsoft products has been spreading in the last couple of years, especially after the local authorities decided to make some drastic cuts and to save funds. The IT departments were among the first to comply and the first effects are now beginning to show.