There have been a lot of success stories of big governmental organizations switching to Open Source solutions to cut down costs. The latest one doing the rounds: French Gendarmerie switching to Ubuntu and cutting down IT costs by an impressive 40%.
Using an open source desktop lowers the total cost of ownership by 40%, in savings on proprietary software licences and by reducing costs on IT management. Using Ubuntu Linux massively reduces the number of local technical interventions, says Major Stéphane Dumond. “The direct benefits of saving on licences are the tip of the iceberg. An industrialised open source desktop is a powerful lever for IT governance.”
All’s well and good when you put it in the perspective of such organizations. But, what does the Open Source software community get in return? Some good name and a gentle pat in the back. Is that enough? Not much really.
There was a slight compensation when the German city of Munich reportedly were planning to distribute free CDs of Ubuntu 12.04 to its residents. That’s a step forward but certainly not good enough. Why I say it’s not good enough is because they can do more – a lot more than what they are currently doing.
Since these organizations will more than likely have their own support team and not rely on purchasing support contracts, the only reasonable source of revenue via clients buying support contracts for Open Source software gets blocked.
Now, if we can get them to exercise some Corporate Social Responsibility, all of us can have a happy ending. For a start, they can maybe donate a part of their savings to a FOSS organization or a company. I believe that’s reasonable and fair for all sides.
If that sounds too much, hiring a developer or two and getting them to work on their upstream software is a good bargain at the least.
It’s possible I don’t have a full picture of what the organizations do with their savings. And I would be very glad if they do share my thoughts on how they can benefit Open Source that benefit them. After all, that’s the underlying philosophy behind Open Source.