No regrets for Newham

The council thinks 'more than ever' that its decision to go for Microsoft-based systems over Linux-based alternatives was the right call
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

The London Borough of Newham has unveiled the first fruits of its controversial deal with Microsoft.

The deal between the council and Microsoft, signed last year, followed an evaluation of the benefits of Linux' and Microsoft's technologies — which concluded that Microsoft offered the best value.

Newham’s head of ICT Richard Steel told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com he has no regrets about signing the deal: "We are pleased with Microsoft’s performance. Since we made our decision to go with Microsoft I tend to think more than ever we made the right decision."

One of the first projects implemented is the Open Application Sharing Portal, which will allow local authorities to share best practice and source code to cut development costs.

For example, an e-ticketing toolkit developed by the Royal Borough of Kingston, running on Microsoft Commerce Server 2002, is available to other local authorities via the portal.

"We hope that it will provide a key facility to enable organisations to share code. What Microsoft is doing is supporting open application sharing and that’s one of the reasons we are keen to work with them," Steel said.

Newham also plans to use technologies such as Microsoft BizTalk Server to connect up services such as council tax, housing, environment, social services and education and make them accessible to the council's customer service staff through a single access point.

"In areas such as BizTalk Microsoft has products that have a real lead," said Steel.

The council is also working on a number of other projects including employee self-service and e-forms, as well as electronic monitoring systems in the home.

And while it has a "Microsoft-centric" strategy, it still finds some room for open source: "We do use Linux in some areas such as for Web servers and have no immediate plans to discontinue," said Steel.

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