Archive for March, 2013

Software suppliers have local authorities over a barrel

March 26th, 2013

Local authorities are faced with a choice of either forking out for costly software licence upgrades or keeping staff, says Geoff Connell, CIO at Newham Borough Council.

“We are only seeing the price point increasing, there is no recognition of the financial climate,” Geoff Connell said. He said the trend was forcing local authorities to go down the Google Apps route or to consider open source. Microsoft tends to be the biggest single IT spend for local authorities.

“The choice is to update Microsoft or retain staff,” said Connell. “Last summer we did an enterprise agreement upgrade with Dynamics and SharePoint – the bits for customer service. We wanted the functionality so moved to the latest version. There was some flexibility with licensing.” But he said the Office 2010 suite would not be upgraded. “We saw no imperative for the latest version, so we took a holiday on that one. But that restricts our flexibility to use licenses from home”.

Microsoft 365 did not stack up financially, in-house or in the datacentre environment, he said.

Last year Microsoft’s private sector customers faced a price hike of up to 25%, with some charities also facing a fourfold cost increase for Microsoft software due to licensing changes.

Warwickshire Council adopts Gmail

March 16th, 2013

Warwickshire County Council is to complete a full roll-out of Google Gmail across its 4,500 users next month, in a move that will deliver £250,000 in savings. The services also include Google Docs and instant messenger, spam filtering, video conferencing and more archiving space than the council was previously able to offer, said Tonino Ciuffini, CIO at Warwickshire County Council.

Warwickshire has spent over a year getting from pilot to a full-roll out and had been holding out for the services being available through the G-cloud, its preferred route. However, the services were not available on the second version of the framework, said Ciuffini.

The council looked at three private and public cloud options, including Microsoft Office 365, Google and IBM, Cable and Wireless with Exchange, SCC with Exchange, and open source offering Zimbra via supplier Savvis. But the council chose Google because it was the most cost-effective option.

The services have been accredited up to impact level two (IL2), which Cuiffini said was an appropriate classification for protecting the vast majority of information used within local government. Sensitive information such as social care records wouldn’t be communicated via email, anyway, he said. He added that cloud providers actually have better security expertise than providing the services in-house.