Paris shrugs off open-source plans

Paris City Council's plans to move to open-source software have been nixed in the short term, as 'it would mean significant additional costs without improving the service'
Written by Jerome Thorel, Contributor on

It won't be "all or nothing" and it won't be "everything, right away". That's the gist of the message coming out of Paris following the presentation of a report into a possible switch from Windows to open source. It seems the Linux revolution has not yet left the starting blocks across the Channel.

A lot of smoke without fire seems to be the result of the in-camera meeting, where the results of a report, Economic Study of a Migration to Open Source, were to be revealed to a handful of Parisian officials and the question of whether Paris was to follow Munich was to be answered.

In a short statement, an assistant of François Dagnaud -- the man in charge of the Paris executive's drive to modernise its IT -- revealed that the revolution hoped for by fans of GPL and OpenOffice and feared by Microsoft and co won't happen.

The assistant said: "The scenario of a near-term massive migration to open source, i.e. a complete and immediate change, appeared incompatible with the original state of the technology and systems, which the audit carried out in 2001 highlighted the age of."

He added: "Furthermore, it would mean significant additional costs without improving the service provided."

Officials wouldn't go into more detail on the costs in question but French daily Libération gave the figure of €57m over five years which it said was the cost of "changing Microsoft tools to open source [ones] in the most ambitious scenario". The lion's share -- nearly €10m a year -- would be spent on things like training staff how to use the new software.

According to our information, two other, less ambitious scenarios were presented in the report, with corresponding less significant costs.

François Dagnaud concluded the statement saying: "On the basis of the diagnostic elements established by the report, [Paris] will equip itself with the means to assure it is in control of its own development and will tend towards a still greater independence in regard to its suppliers.

"This strategic direction [will help] in view of moving away from dependence on the information technology of providers with de facto monopolies."

The Paris Council is intending to spread the use of IT equipment, modernise current systems and standardise them. While it does that, it will be prioritising interoperability and compatibility between open source and proprietary software, Dagnaud said.

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