[sf-lug] fascinating story: How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city
jim at systemateka.com
Fri Nov 22 12:21:54 PST 2013
On Fri, 2013-11-22 at 11:33 -0800, Michael Shiloh wrote:
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [Linux-ME] How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked
> Microsoft out of the city
> Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 22:02:47 +0400
> From: James Prabhakar <prabhags at gmail.com>
> Reply-To: Linux-middleeast at yahoogroups.com
> To: linux-middleeast at yahoogroups.com
> Breaking up with Microsoft is hard to do. Just ask Peter Hofmann, the man
> leading the City of Munich's project to ditch Windows and Office in favour
> of open source alternatives.
> The project took close to a decade to complete, has seen the city wrestle
> with legal uncertainties and earned Munich a visit from Microsoft CEO Steve
> Ballmer, whose pleas to the mayor of Germany's third largest city not to
> switch fell on deaf ears.
> Munich says the move to open source has saved it more than €10m, a
> yet Hofmann says the point of making the switch was never about money, but
> about freedom.
> "If you are only doing a migration because you think it saves you money
> there's always somebody who tells you afterwards that you didn't calculate
> it properly," he said.
> "Our main goal was to become independent." Peter Hoffman, project lead
> "That was the experience of a lot of open source-based projects that have
> failed," Hofmann noted. They were only cost-driven and when the
> organisation got more money or somebody else said 'The costs are wrong'
> then the main reason for doing it had broken away. That was never the main
> goal within the City of Munich. Our main goal was to become independent."
> Munich is used to forging its own path. The city runs its own schools and
> is one of the few socialist, rather than conservative governments, in
> [image: Peter Hofmann speaks in Berlin]
> Peter Hofmann speaks about Munich's open source migration at the Linux Tag
> conference in Berlin.
> Image: Stefan Krempl
> Becoming independent meant Munich freeing itself from closed, proprietary
> software, more specifically the Microsoft Windows NT operating system and
> the Microsoft Office suite, and a host of other locked-down technologies
> the city relied on in 2002.
> The decision to ditch Microsoft was also born of necessity. In 2002 the
> council knew official support for Windows NT, the OS used on 14,000 staff
> machines at the council, would soon run out. The council ordered a study of
> the merits of switching to XP and Office versus a GNU/Linux OS, OpenOffice
> and other free software.
> As well as being tied to Windows upgrades, Munich faced becoming more
> tightly locked into the Microsoft ecosystem with each passing year, Hofmann
> "Windows has developed from a pure PC-centred operating system, like
> Windows 3.11 was, to a whole infrastructure. If you're staying with
> Microsoft you're getting more and more overwhelmed to update and change
> your whole IT infrastructure [to fit with Microsoft]," according to
> Hofmann, whether that be introducing a Microsoft Active Directory system or
> running a key management server.
> "If you're staying with Microsoft you're getting more and more overwhelmed
> to update and change your whole IT infrastructure." Peter Hoffman
> Free software was ruled the better choice by Munich's ruling body,
> principally because it would free the council from dependence on any one
> vendor and future-proof the council's technology stack via open protocols,
> interfaces and data formats.
> The prospect of such a high profile loss, and other organisations following
> Munich's lead, spurred Microsoft to mount a last ditch campaign to win the
> authority back. A senior sales executive at the time told general managers
> in EMEA "under NO circumstances lose against
> Steve Ballmer himself took time out of a skiing holiday to make a revised
> offer in March 2003, followed two months later by Microsoft knocking
> millions of Euros off the price of sticking with Windows and Office.
> The lobbying failed to change Munich's mind, and in June 2004 the council
> gave the go-ahead to begin the migration from NT and Office 97/2000 to a
> Linux-based OS, a custom-version of OpenOffice, as well as a variety of
> free software, such as the Mozilla Firefox browser, Mozilla Thunderbird
> e-mail client and the Gimp photo editing software. It became known as the
> LiMux project, after the name for the custom Linux OS the council was
> rolling out.
> Making sense of the IT zoo
> Nine years is a long time for a desktop migration by anyone's standards,
> but the LiMux project was always going to be more than a simple transition.
> [image: Microsoft's Steve Ballmer]
> Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came to Munich and made the case for sticking
> with Microsoft software.
> Image: James Martin/CNET
> Originally planned as a soft roll out that would be complete by 2011, the
> project was extended when it became clear that the migration to free
> software would be more challenging than first thought.
> The complexity came down to the way IT was managed at Munich: twenty two
> different units handling IT for different parts of the council and each
> with differences in the Windows clients and other software they used,
> varying patch levels and no common directory, user, system or hardware
> "[The council] had 22 different units with their own IT, with totally
> different kinds of systems for the networking, operating and user
> directories. It was all a big zoo,” said Hofmann, adding there was no
> detailed overview of the hardware each user relied upon or the software
> they needed to do their job.
> Without a clear picture of its IT estate, Munich found it was taking too
> long to deal with unexpected problems thrown up when rolling out LiMux.
> "If you set up an old PC with the new system you'd start recognising
> 'Whoops, that isn't there or there's hardware that needs to be
> reconfigured' and at that stage that's clearly too late. You have to know
> what's going on before you roll it out."
> "We planned a slow migration, carrying out the migration and the
> development of our LiMux client in parallel." Peter Hoffman
> Munich chose to standardise processes for capturing each department's
> infrastructure and requirements and for testing and release management, at
> the cost of adding several years to the project's completion date.
> "That took a large amount of time to get over these heterogeneous systems,"
> said Hofmann.
> A single unit was put in charge of maintaining and supporting the LiMux
> client, as well as implementing and providing common tools for user and
> system management.
> The nature of the project had changed, from a desktop migration to cleaning
> up much of Munich's IT infrastructure and the way it was managed – a move
> in keeping with the council's motto for the project: "Quality over time".
> In spite of the delay in completing the project, Hofmann said the authority
> had always planned to take its time.
> "We never planned to carry out a big bang migration. From the start we
> planned a slow migration, carrying out the migration and the development of
> our LiMux client in parallel."
> [image: LiMux logo]
> Munich focused on The IT Evolution as the logo for its custom Linux
> The time taken to complete the project is one of many reasons that
> Microsoft has attacked Munich's move to LiMux. Areport criticising the
> produced by HP for Microsoft, claimed the Redmond software giant could
> migrate 50 to 500 desktop PCs per day if upgrading to a Microsoft OS and
> office, suite compared to the eight per day it said was being achieved
> under the LiMux project.
> However, by Hofmann's reckoning, that slow and steady migration is one of
> the reasons the project has largely managed to stay within its budget with
> minimal disruption. The project finished within budget in October 2013,
> with more than 14,800 staff migrated to using Limux and more than 15,000 to
> Retooling for Linux
> A myriad technical challenges emerged as Munich tried to reconfigure an
> infrastructure littered with proprietary formats and protocols to play
> nicely with LiMux and free software.
> Large chunks of the software used by the council were built using Microsoft
> technologies. For example, a sizeable proportion of Microsoft Office macros
> were written in Microsoft's programming language Visual Basic, while other
> departments were tied to Internet Explorer by a dependence on ActiveX. This
> preponderance of lock-in interfaces was described as "awful" in 2010 by
> then deputy head of the LiMux project Florian Schiessl.
> [image: LiMux screenshot]
> This screenshot of LiMux shows the major customization that Munich has done
> to Ubuntu.
> As would be expected, the council has had to shell out a chunk of change on
> getting applications to work on LiMux – a custom-build of the Ubuntu flavor
> of Linux – some €774,000 as of last year.
> At the time the migration started, the council used about 300 common office
> software programs, such as web browsers and e-mail clients, and 170
> specialised apps tailored to different roles performed by the council.
> These specialised apps ranged from large-scale IT systems down to macros
> and templates linked to Microsoft Office.
> Understandably, migrating these apps to run on the LiMux OS is one of the
> areas where choosing LiMux over Windows cost Munich, with the work on
> migrating apps to LiMux costing €200,000 more than porting them to a newer
> version of Windows.
> Offsetting that is the estimated €6.8 million savings the council says it
> had made as of last year from not having to licence a new Microsoft OS and
> office suite.
> The lion's share of Munich's applications, about 90 per cent, are
> accessible via LiMux. Most have been ported, while others are running as
> web apps, inside virtualised containers or via terminal servers.
> A small number of apps have proven impossible to port, make accessible or
> switch away from – particularly software whose use is mandated by the
> German government – and have to be run directly on Windows machines.
> While the council has weaned itself off the majority of Microsoft
> technologies, Munich still experiences friction where it rubs against
> proprietary software in widespread use elsewhere.
> "We thought from the start we would have other organisations follow us but
> it's really not easy." Peter Hoffman
> One of the main complaints from Munich staff using LiMux and OpenOffice is
> about incompatibilities with Microsoft Office. Documents, spreadsheets and
> other files display some fonts, pictures and layouts differently in
> OpenOffice than in Microsoft Office, and changes to some documents are not
> properly logged.
> Munich hopes to ease some of these problems by moving all its OpenOffice
> users to LibreOffice, a process which will get underway at the end of this
> year. Munich has worked with other users of LibreOffice, including
> authorities in the German city of Freiburg and the Austrian capital Vienna,
> to pay for updates to LibreOffice that should improve interoperability with
> Microsoft's office suite.
> The complexity of moving from proprietary software after years of being a
> Microsoft shop might explain why more organisations haven't followed in
> Munich's footsteps, and why some, like the German municipality of Freiburg,
> have given up on their own shift to open source. Last year Freiburg
> scrapped plans to move to OpenOffice claiming it would have cost up to €250
> per seat to resolve interoperability issues.
> "We thought from the start we would have other organisations follow us but
> it's really not easy," said Hofmann.
> Hofmann's warning against justifying the jump to free software on cost
> alone seems well-grounded given how hotly Microsoft has contested costings
> for the programme.
> Microsoft claims that, by its estimation, the LiMux project would have cost
> considerably more than Munich has said. The HP report for Microsoft put the
> project's price at €60.6m, far more than the €17m Microsoft claimed it
> would have cost to shift to Windows XP and a newer version of Microsoft
> [image: LiMux migration timeline]
> Munich stands by its assertion that it has cost the council less to drop
> Microsoft than it would have to have stuck with it, and says Microsoft's
> figures are based on bogus assumptions.
> The final cost will be released at the end of 2013, but in August 2013
> Munich said it had cost €23m to shift to LiMux and OpenOffice. Munich says
> this is far less than the estimated €34m it said it would have cost to
> upgrade to Windows 7 and newer versions of Microsoft Office.
> Where does the truth lie? Well Munich makes a good case for why much of the
> work carried out during the LiMux project would have been necessary if the
> council had decided to opt for a newer version of Windows, and how it has
> saved money on top.
> By choosing to swap to LiMux and OpenOffice Munich was able to keep using
> its old PCs for longer, something that Hofmann said would not have been
> possible if it had chosen some of the recent versions of Microsoft Office
> and Windows 7.
> Extending the lifespan of its PCs in this way had saved the council some
> €4.6m as of last year, according to its official figures.
> And by Munich's reckoning, the same standardisation of the council's tech
> infrastructure and administration would have eventually been necessary
> whatever the OS and office suite chosen, said Hofmann.
> [image: LiMux workstations chart]
> Training thousands of the council's staff to use a new OS and software is
> another area where Munich believes the council would have faced equivalent
> costs for both Microsoft and LiMux – claiming it would have set them back
> €1.69m regardless of the system.
> "If we would have switched to Microsoft Office, the costs for the
> e-learning platform would have been the same, and the new GUI for MS Office
> would have required the same amount of training," said Hofmann.
> "[In fact] the GUI in OpenOffice is much more like MS Office 2000 than the
> new MS Office GUI."
> Similarly the €6.1m bill for personnel to oversee the migration process
> would have remained the same regardless of whether the council moved to
> LiMux or a future Windows OS, in Munich's estimation. Currently up to 18
> people work at any one time work on development and maintenance tasks
> relating to the operating system and office software for LiMux and Windows.
> Freedom to work
> While many businesses might balk at the thought of not having a support
> contract to pick up the pieces when their OS and office software goes
> wrong, Munich feels far from adrift, said Hofmann.
> [image: Munich's Victory Gate]
> Victory Gate is a symbol of the City of Munich. Its Linux migration
> declared victory in October 2013.
> Image: iStockphoto/tzeiler
> A team of just 25 people at Munich develop, roll out and provide final
> support for the Ubuntu-based LiMux client. A larger number of people look
> after the everyday administration of the city's PCs but far fewer than the
> 1,000 people cited in the Microsoft/HP report as implementing the LiMux
> The authority doesn't have a support deal for the LiMux client, but instead
> handles support itself with the help of various free software communities,
> such as those supporting Ubuntu, KDE, LibreOffice and OpenOffice.
> "We are using the community way of support," said Hofmann. "We are finding
> it to be effective, mostly."
> The model is allowing the council to help develop the software it uses in
> order that it better suit its needs.
> "If you're only a customer with a support contract, it doesn't give you the
> ability to change how things are put into Ubuntu or LibreOffice," said
> "That becomes more possible when you work with the community."
> "We are using the community way of support." Peter Hoffman
> The same staff who develop LiMux are also responsible for the last level of
> support, Hofmann said, adding the authority prizes the freedom it has to
> work out how to resolve problems on its own.
> "We had an issue with OpenOffice in the past and a support contract
> wouldn't have helped us because nobody else has this sort of problem, so we
> would have had the choice to live with it or forget about it," said Hofmann.
> Instead Munich paid a company to resolve the issue for them, and put the
> patch upstream.
> "The only downside is there's no-one to blame when things do go wrong, but
> what's the advantage of that?" Hofmann said.
> What does the future hold?
> Now that the migration to LiMux is complete, Munich plans to continue
> developing LiMux (the next version is due out in summer 2014) and continue
> to incorporate changes made to the Ubuntu LTS release it's based upon. The
> authority will also continue to identify opportunities to migrate other
> apps to run on the LiMux client so it can further reduce its Microsoft
> [image: Picturesque Munich]
> Picturesque Munich is regularly ranked as one of the world's most liveable
> Image: iStockphoto/Björn Kindler
> Now that Munich is on a path to freeing itself from proprietary ties,
> Hofmann says he sees no compelling reason for the authority to ever go back.
> "We saw from the start that if you're only relying on one contributor to
> supply your operating system, your office system and your infrastructure,
> you're stuck with it. You have to do what your contributor tells you to. If
> they say 'There's no longer support for your office version', you have to
> buy and implement a new one. You're no longer able to make those kinds of
> decisions by yourself."
> He is hopeful that Munich will show other large organisations that it is
> possible to make the jump to free software and, while it is a difficult and
> time-consuming process, making it happen doesn't mean shutting down your IT.
> "It's the best thing you can do. I've been asked 'How come you say you're
> up and running when Microsoft says you're already dead'," he said.
> Hofmann's response: "It is possible to do an open source migration and
> still have the citizens not left alone. We're far from being dead."
More information about the sf-lug