ODF PLUGFEST UK – FEBRUARY 24/25 - MAIDENHEAD - Report

 ODF PLUGFEST UK – FEBRUARY 24/25 - MAIDENHEAD EVENT SUMMARY

 

OPEN STANDARDS – A NEW DAWN OR A FALSE START?

The 5th Open Document format (ODF) Plugfest was held in Maidenhead last week. Normally these events only attract an audience of the committed technical experts who work together in the area of open standards and open source software (OSS). However, this time there was a difference.

 

The event attracted an MP (who is also the Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology), two councillors (from Bristol and Windsor & Maidenhead) and the Government’s Deputy CIO. The reason for this unprecedented attention was soon revealed.

 

The MP, Adam Afriyie, explained that the Conservative ideal of the 'Big Society' will only work if data owned by the central government can be transferred easily and safely to third parties working with the Government. Delivering cost effective services can only be achieved through easy access to the necessary data.

 

Adam explained that he had direct experience of the cost of 'proprietary lock in' from his role as founding Director of an IT Services company in the 1990s. This company made significant profits through interfacing different proprietary cabling systems. This high cost of proprietary lock in had to be removed if the Conservative ideal of the Big Society was to be achieved.

 

Adam's three key points were:

 

  • Open standards are essential if data is going to be made available to inform citizen choice

  • Lack of open standards and interoperability introduces high cost, discouraging innovation

  • Politics and economics are about removing obstacles to exchanging and using information.

 

These thoughts were confirmed by Bill McCluggage who, as Deputy CIO in the Cabinet Office, has the operational responsibility for delivering cost effective Government IT services. Bill explained that the revised Government IT policy is that Government ICT assets should be interoperable and open for re-use in order to:

 

  • Maximise return on investment

  • Avoid technological lock in

  • Reduce operational risk in ICT projects

  • Provide responsive services to the citizen

 

Achieving this will require:

 

  • Creation of a level playing field for OSS

  • Maximum ICT project size of £100 million

The Government now intends to publish all government ICT contracts on the web and has told the supplier community that the days of mega IT projects are over, the need is for smaller 'off the shelf' projects using OSS.

 

The audience was delighted to hear that the years of lobbying finally seemed to be achieving a degree of recognition of the massive cost benefits that the adoption of ODF and OSS can bring.

 

Liam Maxwell, the Councillor for the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead confirmed that the Borough's ICT Strategy is to move IT service provision to the cloud using both open source and open standards. The Business Strategy of the Borough is::

 

  • Transparency (all expenditure over £500 is published on their web site)

  • Personal Identity Assurance

  • Reuse of common components (all Local Authorities deliver the same services). It is this strategy component that demands the use of common platforms and open standards.

 

Liam reiterated that the potential of the 'Big Society' can only be realised if open standards are used to facilitate the interface between Government, Local Authorities and the third parties actually delivering the service. He quoted the example of old age care in the home being provided in this manner in Sweden.

 

This commitment to the principle of open standards was welcomed by the audience but some speakers felt that the degree of resistance to this approach was being severely underestimated.

 

Mark Wright, a Councillor from Bristol with responsibility for ICT described Bristol's costly experiences with implementing ODF.

 

In 2004 Bristol Council took the strategic decision to move to ODF on its desktop PCs by implementing Star Office rather than MS Office. At that time there was an expectation that other local authorities would adopt the same strategy but by 2009 not one other local authority had committed to the same strategy.

 

The reasons for this were:

 

  • Central Government requires a huge number of data returns to be provided in complex MS Office spreadsheets which did not conform to ODF standards.

  • Partner organisations (Police, health, etc.) did not conform the ODF standards.

  • Suppliers would not commit to ODF standards

 

Consequently the Council was unable to get the number of MS Office PCs down below 50% of its desktop PC population resulting in

 

  • Little or no overall saving on software licensing costs

  • Creation of a complex ICT environment with the consequent higher management and support costs

 

Other speakers reiterated Mark's concerns including Fabrice Mous, a consultant who worked on the Dutch ODF standards implementation experiment. Fabrice summarised the experience:

 

  • The ODF policy was issued at the highest level but there was no clear mandate or legal enforcement and no check on compliance

  • There was a lack of a strong procurement policy for ODF

  • There was minimal or no ODF support for related Government ICT projects

  • There was inadequate focus on change management

  • There was no realisation that ODF is a political issue as well as an interoperability issue

 

Consequently the experiment was not a success.

 

The need for a clear and enforced mandate was emphasised through questions and by other speakers, in particular by Mark Taylor of SiriusIT. As the founder of the Open Source Consortium Mark has been involved in OSS advocacy for many years and has reached the conclusion that unless the use of ODF and OSS is clearly mandated and enforced then the inertia of the status quo will prevent its adoption.

 

The issues of achieving a truly open procurement process were also highlighted as a significant factor by Simon Phipps.

 

Delegates left the two day conference with mixed feelings. The Government was finally showing a real interest in achieving the significant benefits that ODF and OSS can bring, but real life experiences suggest that the commitment required to make it happen is far higher that the Government is currently prepared to provide.

 

 

PRESENTATION DETAILS

 

DAY 1 – TECHNICAL

 

Text Wrapping

 

The Calligra Suite (http://www.calligra-suite.org/) attendees introduced a test document for text wrapping. The document can be found here: http://plugtest.opendocsociety.org/doku.php?id=scenarios:20110224:textlayout. The appearance of this document is different in the various incarnations of Open Office and after some debate it was agreed that this was a result of the ODF standard being incomplete allowing differing interpretations. The issue will be referred to the OASIS Technical Committee for ODF.

 

Testing

 

An attendee asked why there was no formal/organised testing being performed as would have been the case in a similar meeting of health care IT system vendors. These 'connectathons' (http://www.connectathon.org/) provided formalised and reproducible test scenarios for software and hardware interoperability. Results were published creating a situation where vendors had to participate. The meeting response was that the ODF standard specification created a situation where organisations already had to prove conformance to the specification so 'connectathon' type testing was thought to be unnecessary.

 

Track Changes

 

An area where the current ODF standard is incomplete is in the handling of 'tracking changes'. Rob DeLafontaine of DeltaXML presented a proposed standard which is planned to be submitted to the OASIS Technical Committee by July 2011. A debate on whether the standard would support collaborative working was inconclusive.

 

Cloud Office from Oracle

 

A beta release of the current Cloud Office development was demonstrated.

 

Unique Features Fallback

 

A proposal for handling objects which the editor cannot interpret by holding them within frames was discussed.

 

EuroOffice Map Chart Extension

 

This was demonstrated. The map chart is currently held in a polygon, the group discussion suggested that it would be better for interoperability if it were held in a frame.

 

OfficeShots

 

This web based capability (http://officeshots.org/) allows testing of office suites against standard test files so that conformance to ODF standards can be assessed.

 

DAY 2 - MANAGEMENT & STRATEGIC

 

Liam Maxwell

 

Liam opened the second day as our host. As a councillor in the Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Liam sits in the Cabinet. The Borough is a small one which does make life a bit easier as they are small enough to fail but large enough to need to scale. The Borough has the lowest council tax outside of London and has a high concentration on cost reduction and innovation. People are paid to recycle and there is a time bank process to encourage volunteering.

 

The need to deliver services remotely is understood and will be achieved through two routes:

 

  • Use of libraries to deliver a wide range of services

  • Use of the cloud to deliver services via ICT

 

The ICT Strategy is to support the move to the cloud by using ICT based upon open source and open standards. Both MS Office and Open Office will be deployed on desktop PCs.

 

The Business Strategy of the Borough is::

 

  • Transparency (all expenditure over £500 is published on their web site)

  • Personal Identity Assurance

  • Reuse of common components (all Local Authorities deliver the same services). It is this strategy component that demands the use of common platforms and open standards.

 

The potential of the 'Big Society' can only be realised if open standards are used to facilitate the interface between Government/Local Authority and the third parties actually delivering the service (e.g. old age care in the home as is currently provided in Sweden).

 

Bill McCluggage – Deputy Government CIO

 

Is Government Sincere about Open Source and Open Standards?

 

Bill confirmed that Liam's 3 points above were important to the Government also.

 

Currently there is an oligopoly in the ICT supplier community – there is a small number of very large suppliers.

 

The systems being commissioned and provided are too large and are not interoperable.

 

Interoperability can only be achieved through a strong commitment to open standards.

 

Government IT policy note:

 

Government assets should be interoperable and open for re-use in order to:

 

  • Maximise return on investment

  • Avoid technological lock in

  • Reduce operational risk in ICT projects

  • Provide responsive services to the citizen

 

A survey is being commissioned to assess which standards are important to facilitate interoperability. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/UkGovOpenStandards

 

However, what is the definition of open standards?

 

  • Result from and are maintained by an independent process

  • Approved by a recognised standards or specification organisation. e.g. W3C, ISO

  • Are thoroughly documented and publicly available at low or zero cost

  • Have Intellectual Property which has been made irrevocably available to the Government on a royalty free basis.

  • Can be implemented and shared under a different development approaches and on a number of platforms.

 

The underlying challenge is to get to a point where open standards are accepted as the norm.

 

Open Source Solutions (OSS) Policy Note:

 

We will create a level playing field for OSS and enable large ICT projects to be split into smaller £100 million projects (when questioned Bill indicated that a review process would be held for any ICT project over £5 million).

 

The Government now intends to publish all government ICT contracts on the web and has told the supplier community that the days of mega IT projects are over, the need is for smaller 'off the shelf' projects using OSS.

 

In order to increase OSS usage there are 4 actions being undertaken:

 

  • An update to the procurement process

  • Education of commissioning and end Users

  • Creation of a level playing field for OSS and SMEs

  • An expectation that the current Supplier oligopoly will supply OSS based solutions.

 

Some figures:

 

Central Government IT spend is ca. £6.2 billion p.a., 70% of this goes to the top 13 suppliers in the oligopoly.

 

The wider public sector spend is £16.9 billion p.a. (including central Government).

 

The Systems Integrators have been told that the Government cannot buy what isn't offered so they need to start offering OSS and ODF compliant solutions.

 

Achievement of all of this will require a partnership between:

 

  • Central Government

  • Users within central Government

  • Suppliers

  • Open Source/Standards community

 

The Central Government ICT Strategy which will be published shortly will identify the establishment of:

 

  • Systems Integrator (SI) Forum

  • OSS/Standards Implementation Group

  • OSS/Standards Advisory panel

 

The Central Government will expect all future ICT proposals from suppliers to:

 

  • Identify Open Standards and interoperability as key components

  • Have included an evaluation of OSS

  • OSS to be normal practice

  • Cheaper and more effective solutions

 

The key benefits of ODF are seen to be:

 

  • Transparency and data transfer capability

  • Device interoperability (mobile/cloud/desktop)

  • Freedom from vendor lock in

  • Product agnostic – leading to lower licensing costs

 

These will lead to efficiencies in public sector working.

 

Post presentation Q&A welcomed this approach but questioned the length of time necessary to effect the change.

 

Graham Taylor – Chief Executive of Open Forum Europe

 

Graham gave his perspective on the first recently held SI Forum:

 

  • SIs were told that they were expected to review OSS viability/usage at each contract renewal point

  • SIs emphasised the need to educate the commissioning and end Users within Central Government

 

Graham also commented on some European issues:

 

  • Some 'push back' is being experienced from standards bodies who do not want to be involved in the standard setting process for ICT

  • Procurement is excluding SMEs

  • The definition of interoperability is weak and there is a need for the various European Governments to standardise on their definitions.

 

Michiel Leenaars

 

Opendoc Society (http://www.opendocsociety.org/)

 

Opendoc Society was launched in October 2007 as a resource to help Users wanting to interoperate. It is now supported by over 60 entities (companies, government bodies, charities etc.)

 

Mission:

 

To bring together knowledge, experience, best practices and people throughout the entire ecosystem around open document formats such as ODF & PDF.

 

The society is not bound to products and sees a clear separation between file formats and the tools used to edit file content. Open documents can be created with any desired tools and anyone can create new tools – let the best product win”!

 

Approaches

To spread knowledge through a wide range of media:

 

  • On-line

  • workshops

  • manuals

  • directories

  • services

  • newsletter

 

OfficeShots (http://officeshots.org/)

 

Office Shots has been launched to provide a neutral way of testing ODF compliant software thus providing a publicly available analysis of ODF compliance.

 

George Kolomvos

 

Open Source Observatory and Repository (www.osor.eu)

 

The Open Source Observatory and Repository for European public administrations (OSOR) is a platform for exchanging information, experiences and OSS code for use in public administrations.

 

OSOR.eu is financed by the European Commission through the initiative ‘Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens’ (IDABC) (http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/) and is supported by European governments at national, regional and local level. IDABC was launched in 2004 to support the delivery of cross border services within the EU. The OSOR web site was launched in 2008 and offers OSS under a European Public Licence (EUPL) (http://www.osor.eu/eupl).

 

OSOR is essentially a collaboration platform for public administrations to freely share open IT solutions knowledge and experience:

 

  • Targeted towards Public Administrations

  • Supports re-use of software

  • Has European level visibility

  • Operates under the umbrella of the EC

 

The objectives are:

 

  • Spread good OSS practice throughout EU Public Administrations

  • Improved sharing and re-use of OSS

  • Provision of legal advice and guidance

  • Use of the EUPL

 

There are now more than 200 projects and a federation of 16 national 'forges' with access to more than 2,500 OSS projects.

 

OBSERVATORY

 

  • Information

  • Guidance

 

REPOSITORY

 

  • Project hosting

  • Bug tracking

  • Document and version management

  • Project metrics.

 

Simon Phipps (http://webmink.com/)

 

Open Source Procurement Challenge – If OSS is so good then why aren't we buying it?

 

Why do we want OSS and Open Standards?

 

  • To eliminate control points external to the organisation

  • To reclaim control of the organisation’s budget

  • To gain security from membership of a community rather than from a single supplier

  • To achieve standardisation of the data needed by the organisation

 

The Open Source Initiative (http://www.opensource.org/) is the pragmatic face of OSS.

 

The OSS freedoms:

 

  • Use – adoption led, succeed or fail early giving enhanced budget control

  • Study – access to expert proven solutions

  • Modify – rich marketplace with innovation freely possible

  • Distribution – within your own ecosystem

 

But there are BARRIERS:

 

  • Existing lock in – from staff as well as vendors

  • Vendors can deliver their own exploitation of OSS but still lock you in

  • Procurement policies:

  • Indemnities

  • Copyright

  • Assertion of equivalency

  • Overbroad liability requirements

 

 

INDEMNITY

 

This should be risk mitigation not risk elimination.

 

For proprietary software the supplier should provide a legal statement that the software being delivered is free of all copyright/patent issues to protect from vendor malpractice.

 

This is not necessary in the OSS model as the risk mitigation is through the size of the support community providing a collective acceptance of risk through use.

 

However, most procurement processes will look for indemnity.

 

COPYRIGHT

 

OSS provision is not 'work for hire' so all contractual terms requiring copyright ownership for new code must be removed. The vendor must release any new code to the community under an open licence.

 

The OSS licence is NOT negotiable. Procurement tends to be a bilateral process but OSS is multilateral and the licence it is delivered under cannot be negotiated.

 

SUBSCRIPTION NON EQUIVALENCE

 

Procurement of a proprietary solution involves paying a licence fee in recognition of historic investment cost and future R & D as well as an annual maintenance for product support, service level and sustainability.

 

OSS should be marketed on a subscription basis to fund historic and future developments. This subscription cost may be higher than the licence fee but will be less than the sum of the licence and maintenance fees.

 

LIABILITY

 

OSS has no licence compliance issue as it has no End User Licence Agreement (EULA). There is no need for escrow as the OSS is supported by the community not the vendor. The ability to prototype through an adoption led process reduces failure costs dramatically.

 

PROCUREMENT CHECKLIST

 

Remove barriers:

 

  • Indemnity requirements

  • Copyright issues

  • Compare cost equivalence correctly

 

Recognise value:

 

  • No EULA, software asset management only

  • Community escrow

  • Simple ecosystem

  • Adoption led deployment

 

Establish an empowerment ombudsman – transparency is the key to change.

 

Remember that OSS is not free from a monetary perspective – it provides freedom of choice.

 

Fabrice Mous

 

Dutch ODF Policy in Retrospect

 

In 2007 the Dutch Minister of Trade identified the need to have an ICT 'roadmap' which was based upon the preferred use of OSS. There were 4 goals:

 

  • Interoperability

  • Level playing field

  • Innovation

  • No vendor lock in

 

The action plan to achieve this had 19 action points, one of which was the employment of ODF to remove the desktop lock in caused by MS Office.

 

It was recognised that the Government needed to support ODF as well as asking for ODF in the procurement process.

 

The experiences since then can be grouped as follows:

 

POLICIES

 

  • The ODF policy was issued at the highest level but there was no clear mandate or legal enforcement, i.e. no stick.

  • There was no check on compliance, which was seen to be voluntary, consequently it only happened on a minimal basis

  • The actual ODF support policy is ambiguous and left room for multiple interpretations and minimal ambitions

  • There was a lack of a strong procurement policy for ODF, vendors were only asked to comply or explain why they couldn't comply

 

IMPLEMENTATION

 

  • There was support and facilitation of ODF through events such as Plugfests

  • However, there was too much focus on the largest local vendor with a consequent failure to realise wider support through a wider range of vendors

  • There was minimal or no ODF support for related Government ICT projects (e.g. those which used documents)

 

STANDARDS

 

  • An open and transparent process for updating standards is essential

  • Define a specific ICT functional domain for ODF use (i.e. all documents)

  • Ensure adequate resource commitment for ODF quality checking and standardisation

 

ACCEPTANCE

 

  • Need adequate focus on change management

  • Realise that ODF is a political issue as well as an interoperability issue

  • Need incentives (particularly as there was no stick!)

 

There is no magic potion but the experiences lead to the following summary recommendations:

 

  • Define a pragmatic multi-level ODF policy

  • Be active in standards organisations

  • Create a legal framework for ODF

  • Make interoperability a key issue for the vendors

  • Create and nurture success stories

 

Mark Taylor – Sirius (http://www.siriusit.co.uk/)

 

ODF in Local Government

 

58 Local Authorities in the UK have said that they would like to move to ODF but have then identified specific reasons why they cannot achieve this.

 

Some organisations have tried to implement ODF but have then had to stop or reverse the process.

 

There are three primary reasons for this:

 

  • (Subjective): Don't like the product

  • (Objective): Document incompatibilities

  • (Objective): Interoperability with line of business applications.

 

Local Authorities have to interoperate with a range of third parties including Central Government, Police, Health, Schools and other Local Authorities. These partner organisations insist on proprietary document formats (especially central government requesting information through complex spreadsheets). The line of business applications used by the Local Authorities tend to be old and poorly maintained and written for proprietary formats rather than ODF.

 

Advocacy of OSS & ODF

 

Public and private sectors think in different ways. The public sector is not interested in licensing details or source code access.

 

The Open Source Consortium (http://www.opensourceconsortium.org/) was founded (on the advice of SOCITM) to represent companies that deliver solutions and advice based on Open Standards and Free & Open Source Software. It serves these companies as a trade association, giving members greater influence than they could achieve alone, by providing a collective voice to government and other public bodies.

 

There are three main groups of players:

 

  • Politicians who set policy (which has been positive to OSS/ODF for a number of years)

  • Civil Service who enact and implement policy

  • Vendors who provide in line with policy

 

Advocacy of OSS/ODF requires an understanding of these players and the language they speak. An understanding of how the system works and how to use the Press & Think Tanks is very important.

 

The Cabinet Office is becoming key to the process as they are providing:

 

  • A reference architecture for measuring OSS

  • A mandate to vendors to offer OSS

  • Skunkworks projects

 

Chris Puttick

ODF in Oxford Archaeology

The key reason for adoption of ODF was that archaeological data needs to be retained FOR EVER so must be stored in an open format.

 

Achieved through using ODF compliant applications with ODF as the internal standard and PDF as the external standard. ODF compliance was included in the application sourcing process and staff were trained in the use of open office (first training they had received in office applications).

 

Challenges experienced included

 

  • The importance of interoperability was not understood by IS professionals.

  • Vendors were reluctant to adopt the standard (even if there was no 'downside')

  • Early adoption requires tenacity

 

However, challenges are now declining as reusable ODF components are becoming more common and standards are emerging for other data formats.

 

Marijn Kruisselbrink / Casper Boemann

 

Calligra – Mobile ODF (http://www.calligra-suite.org/)

 

There was a demonstration of embedding RDF data in a mobile ODF document. Digital signatures are also supported.

 

Paul Hampton

 

Alfresco – Open CMS and ODF (http://www.alfresco.com/)

 

Systems provided as OSS using open standards on a subscription licence free basis. Functional areas supported:

 

  • Document Management

  • Records Management

  • Web Content Management

  • Collaboration

 

Open interface provided to:

 

  • CIFS

  • WebDAV

  • FTP

  • CMIS (repositories)

  • Sharepoint

  • Google DOCS

  • SMTP

 

All ODF compliant files are rendered using Open Office.

 

Robin LaFontaine

 

DeltaXML (http://www.deltaxml.com/)

 

DeltaXML is designed to compare large XML documents (e.g. engineering manuals for a large US aircraft manufacturer) to detect and highlight changes between versions.

 

Also has the functionality to merge multi authored content into one document (e.g. legal contracts). Note that these are 'off line' changes not an on-line collaboration.

 

Michiel Leenaars

 

LPOD Library & ODF Recipes

 

LPOD - see Languages & platforms for OpenDocument (http://lpod-project.org/)

 

ODF Recipes – reusable ideas or code from the opendocsociety web site (http://recipes.opendocsociety.org/)

 

Karl Ramberg

 

On Line Collaboration with Open Framework Systems (http://ofs.no/)

 

Open framework Systems (OFS) provides secure real time collaboration, information and integration platform which can be accessed by PCs and web based systems. Integration with legacy applications like ERP can be achieved with access to information and functionality being managed by:

 

  • Role

  • Access granted

  • Location

  • Time

  • Device

 

Specific functionality can be de-activated, e.g. the ability to send email, the ability to cut and paste, ODF functionality

 

Access criteria can be set by document section.

 

All available as an Open Office plug in.

 

The collaboration suite also supports the following Open Office functionality:

 

  • Configuration Management

  • Access Management

  • Real Time Collaboration

  • Document Centric Chat

  • Approval Routines

  • Document Templates

 

Adam Afriyie

 

MP (Windsor) and Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

 

Prior to entering politics Adam was a founding director of an IT services business which made a large amount of money by making incompatible cabling infrastructures interoperate. This is a clear example of the cost that incompatibilities introduce.

 

The Conservative ideal of the 'Big Society' depends upon interoperability to allow essential information to flow freely. Cost effective service provision is dependent upon easy access to relevant data which can be used to the benefit of society as whole. Open standards are essential if data is going to be made available to inform citizen choice.

 

Lack of open standards and interoperability introduces high cost, discouraging innovation.

 

Politics and economics are about removing obstacles to exchanging and using information.

 

In the long run simple economics will remove proprietary formats and standards.

 

Government procurement must look at the Total Cost of Ownership and consider OSS.

 

John Phillips

 

National Standards Officer for Microsoft – ODF Implementation Status Update

 

MS will support ODF 1.2

 

Openformula status – MS has engaged with and is supporting the openformula sub committee.

 

Digital Signatures – MS has contributed to the development of a more robust and consistent standard.

 

Change Tracking – MS is working with DeltaXML on ODF 1.2 and is likely to submit a proposal to the OASIS Technical Committee in March 2011.

 

Michael Meeks

 

Document Foundation - Libre Office

 

Libre Office has raised sufficient capital (50,000 Euros from 2,000 donors in a week) to become incorporated as a legal entity in Germany.

 

130 new code contributors have joined the community.

 

Support for converting legacy WordPerfect (and some other) files into ODF announced.

 

Continuing to work on 'round trip' interoperability.

 

Strategy is to be vendor neutral.

 

Zsolt Bagoly

 

Euro Office Update www.multiracio.com

 

Provides free and paid for versions depending upon level of support required.

Extensions charged for, e.g.:

 

  • Bar Code creation

  • On Line Currency Converter

  • Map Chart

 

Also provides extensions for Lotus Symphony

 

Chris Francis

 

Symphony from IBM

Symphony V3:

 

  • Now compatible with OpenOffice.org community version

  • Supports ODF 1.2

  • Interoperability improved, no barriers for WP, spreadsheets and presentations

  • VBA supported at run time in spreadsheets but not totally compatible

  • Enhanced developers' tool kit

 

Lotus Live Symphony:

 

  • Web based collaborative edition

  • Supports collaborative authoring and sharing of WP, Spreadsheets & presentations

  • Section Level management.

 

Oliver-Rainer Wittmann / Frank Meies

 

Oracle Cloud Office

 

  • Cloud office targeted at enterprise market

  • Files, emails and calendars held 'in the cloud'

  • Multi device (PC, laptop, pad, phone) support

  • Committed to ODF

  • Round-trip desktop to cloud and back with no data loss

 

Mark Wright

 

Councillor in Bristol responsible for ICT

 

Mark is an Oracle programmer who has become an open source advocate.

 

In 2004 Bristol Council decided to move from MS Office to Star Office for financial reasons. There was an expectation that other local authorities would adopt the same strategy. By 2009 not one other local authority had committed to the same strategy.

 

Consequently Bristol shouldered the financial burden alone.

 

Why no one else followed:

 

  • Central Government requires a huge number of data returns to be provided in complex MS Office spreadsheets which contained embedded VBA and could not be supported in Star Office.

  • Partner organisations (Police, health, etc.) introduced major 'round-trip' problems

  • Legacy custom built software is of poor quality preventing necessary upgrades

  • Current suppliers would not consider ODF

 

Consequently unable to get the number of MS Office PCs down below the 50% mark, resulting in the same enterprise licence cost as 100%.

 

Overall no cost saving and a very complex environment created.

 

Now reverting to Windows 7, MS Office and Open Office on the desktop and will concentrate the OSS initiatives on the 'back end' infrastructure.

 

The new release of Open Office is better but the increasing prevalence of '.docx' is making 'round-trips' even more problematical.

 

Only solution is a central Government mandate that all MUST use ODF.

 

The current lock in must currently be costing billions across the UK public sector

Document Actions