Novell's Blog Wheels Out Tired Criticisms of Open Source

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 30, 2009

In response to the news this week that the city of Los Angeles is going Googlefied with a $7.25 million, five-year deal to adopt Gmail, Google Calendar and other applications, Novell's blog has an interesting rebuttal. Of course, the reason for the city's switch to Google's corner of the cloud is to save money that it would otherwise spend on expensive software licenses, and it will save. Still, the Novell blog post is intriguing because it's a missive from an open source-focused company criticizing the Los Angeles decision with barbs frequently aimed at open source solutions. It claims that L.A. should have opted for Novell's fee-based Groupwise solution. Huh?

According to the post on Novell's site:

"Like the LA Police department and others, we continue to doubt the economics and security of the City’s decision to move to a Google system. The City Council was presented with clear evidence that Google posed a very significant risk to the security of City and citizen data, much of it highly confidential. In addition, independent financial data showed that the new system will actually cost more, not less."

Why will the Google apps (which aren't open source but aren't expensive proprietary solutions either) cost more, according to the post? You probably already guessed that the post claims that there are "significant costs to migrating, training and securing Google Apps." Does this sound like the classic set of questionable responses that enterprise I.T. administrators deliver when asked why they don't migrate to free, open source software?

The post at Novell's site then goes on to say:

"To set the record straight, Novell GroupWise is a world-class product with more than 30 million users in 120 countries around the globe...The City of Los Angeles should have opted for this proven product to ensure the security of its data and to save taxpayer money."

Groupwise is, of course, typically sold to enterprises through software licenses, as Microsoft's applications and platforms are. The missive at Novell's site is just a blog post, and not necessarily the postion of the company, but it still is pretty jarring to see tired old criticisms of open source appearing on the site of one of the only publicly traded open source-focused companies.