Washington state rejects open source

Summary:Dressel has expanded his proposal to using Zimbra as well as OpenOffice, which he says will save $1.8 million. Zimbra would replace the department's present Exchange Server, OpenOffice would replace Microsoft Office.

National, state and local governments are all waking up to the opportunity open source offers to save money, to do more, and to collaborate.

Washington state, the home of Microsoft, appears to be an exception. At least to hear Josh Dressel tell it. (Washington entered the Union on the 100th anniversary of President Washington's inauguration.)

Dressel, an IT specialist in Olympia, the state capitol, writes a blog called the Chrome Toaster, where he has detailed his unsuccesful efforts to wean his employer, the state's Department of Natural Resources, from Microsoft.

It started when Dressel submitted a proposal to avoid lay-offs in the department through the use of OpenOffice. The response was to ignore him and raise the executive drawbridges.

Dressel did what most people would do. He wrote his state representative. He was motivated by the fact that lay-offs are to begin May 1 and, as a squeaky wheel, he might naturally fear getting greased.

See if his summary of the situation doesn't match up with what you have found at your place of business:

 Our agency is vendor driven. I believe the entire state might be similar in nature. Instead of contacting vendors after consultants and R&D has put time into mapping agency needs, vendors contact those individuals with purchasing authority and pitch the merchandise they claim works best. This might get the job done, but it is an inefficient way of doing business.

Dressel has expanded his proposal to using Zimbra as well as OpenOffice, which he says will save $1.8 million. Zimbra would replace the department's present Exchange Server, OpenOffice would replace Microsoft Office.

He says the initial cost of doing all this is not monetary, but staff time, and the department has staff. He concludes, "The status of IT at the DNR is we continue to be a Microsoft shop without any sound data to back staying this course."

It will be interesting to see if Dressel's name is on the lay-off list, and whether the local press picks up on his crusade.

Topics: Open Source, Collaboration, Microsoft, Software

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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