The Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church has decided to cut the Microsoft umbilical cord by moving to open source, starting with Office which will be replaced in the next three years.
In an interview yesterday, George Lymbers, CIO of the organisation, said he has uncovered substantial savings potential by getting rid of licence fees.
"Some people say, well you only need Windows. Wait a second: you need Office, you need Windows, you need this, you need that. Before you know it you have 10 to 12 licences on one PC covered across thousands of installations. The cost of that is just spectacular," he said.
Office will be the first to go. Lymbers had two alternatives for replacing Microsoft Office: OpenOffice and IBM's Lotus Symphony, based on OpenOffice source code.
He decided to go with the IBM solution, on security and support grounds. Big Blue will provide the back office support for the suite, while Lymbers' department distributes it via thin client over the church's wide area network to the various church organisations.
Organisations which Lymbers' services — including schools, youth groups and aged care villages — will be able to go onto the Web, and click on an icon which is via thin client that will open an open-source Word. "They can open it up and it's totally safe and secure," Lymbers said.
The department will provide the first level of support to its user base, the size of which will vary because the individual organisations can choose if they want to take the services Lymbers provides. However, it may run into the thousands.
"We looked at the potential savings across the Diocese and it is incredibly large," he said. Although he wouldn't disclose the total sum, he was able to say that the savings for the Sydney Diocese Secretariat, which is responsible for providing services such as legal, accounting, and technology to the Diocese will amount to AU$150,000 a year.
Lymbers has been negotiating the support model with IBM and has been reviewing and testing the system. He hopes to have test sites up in 24 months and to begin an aggressive roll out in 36 months.
He also said he was looking at Lotus Quikr to replace Sharepoint. The organisation currently runs Lotus Notes email.