Italian Firm Chucks Microsoft for FOSS: Why Don't More Follow?

by Ostatic Staff - May. 21, 2009

There are more and more companies adopting open source solutions in favor of proprietary software due to the cost savings they can reap, although perhaps not enough. Today, I noticed this release from IBM about Italian food company Gruppo Amadori rolling out Red Hat Enterprise Linux with desktops running IBM software, much of which is free, and some of which has open source roots.

About 1,000 of the company's 6,000 employees use computers and will move to Red Hat's platform and IBM Lotus Symphony--a free software suite with long-standing open source roots, although it's not developed as open source any longer. The company will also switch from Microsoft Exchange to an IBM Lotus Notes and Domino environment hosted on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This is the type of solution that many other companies should look into.

One thing that caught my eye about Gruppo Amadori's software choices is that it is giving employees the free Lotus Symphony suite. As I wrote here, Symphony although Symphony isn't pure open source, it shares much code with the OpenOffice open source suite, and I go way back with Symphony. The Symphony suite was released all the way back in 1984, when Lotus was a powerhouse bigger than Microsoft. It's actually a very good software suite, and does an excellent job with compatibility with Microsoft Office applications. The interfaces too, are very much like the Office app interfaces.

I suspect that Gruppo Amadori workers won't find it too much of a shock to switch from Office to Symphony, and the company will save a lot of money on software licenses. Likewise, Red Hat's platform and support are rock solid.

The real question is why more companies, and governments, aren't making the kind of switch that Gruppo Amadori is. When we reported on the Open Source Business Conference and a survey done in conjunction with it, we noted that respondents said that they see "unfamiliarity with open source solutions" as the top barrier to enterprise adoption of open source. Along the same lines of confusion, Matt Asay notes today that the U.K. government has just pledged well over a hundred million of dollars to Microsoft for software and licenses, with Angela Eagle, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, saying that the Microsoft purchase "reinforces the Government's commitment to its Open Source Action Plan." What?!? How could that comment possibly be more inane?

Once again, when I look at the sensible software choices--easy choices--that a company like Gruppo Amadori is making, and I consider comments like Angela Eagle's, I'm convinced that open source education needs to improve all around the world. There needs to be more of it, people in powerful positions should definitely be educated, and open source just needs much, much better evangelists