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Police IT: Why we swapped Linux for Microsoft

Central Scotland Police is replacing some open source technologies with Microsoft products for 1,000 users. Here's why they switched back.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director
Central Scotland Police is replacing parts of its open source infrastructure with Microsoft software following a review of its IT strategy.

The force has signed a three-year, £60,000 per year agreement with Microsoft which will see it replace some open source technologies with Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Office for 1,000 users.

Microsoft said that as a result of the deal Central Scotland Police could save 30 per cent on IT maintenance costs, and 25 per cent of IT staff time.

The force said a review of its IT department earlier this year concluded it would get better value by using off-the-shelf packages to reduce the need to customize applications. It would also get greater benefits from better compatibility of its systems with those of its partners.

Implementation of the Microsoft technologies began earlier this month, following Central Scotland Police's involvement in the policing of the G8 Summit.

David Stirling, head of ICT at Central Scotland Police, told silicon.com that since 1999 the force has run Linux domain servers, which also acted as local file servers in that domain or station. Its Web servers also ran on Linux, and over time the open-source operating system was also used to run firewalls, mail servers, LDAP and database servers.

"Microsoft will run our domain servers, mail, Active Directory (basically most of the things we get with a standard enterprise agreement). We will run both Linux/OSS Web servers and Microsoft Web servers, dependent on the application," he explained. But Stirling said Linux is not being entirely replaced: "Any changes made were done due to interoperability issues. Where there are no such issues and the open source solution best meets the business needs it will be retained."

The force had also been using open source office applications but Stirling said: "As Microsoft Office comes as part of the Enterprise Agreement, it will be used as the force's office software. The changes will be rolled out over the next number of months, the main infrastructure being in place after the New Year."

Microsoft said it will also work with the force on projects including an electronic document management system for better response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

The force had been working on an open source FOI project but Stirling said: "This system was never completed to our satisfaction and the project was terminated."

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