Software suppliers have local authorities over a barrel

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.

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