• Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites

  • Renai's other site: Sci-fi + fantasy book news and reviews
  • RSS Renai LeMay

  • Featured, News - Written by on Monday, August 29, 2011 11:34 - 6 Comments

    Defence conducts OpenOffice.org trial

    The Department of Defence has reportedly conducted an informal trial of the open source OpenOffice.org productivity suite involving some 100 users.

    According to iTNews (click here for the full story), the initiative was kicked off by Defence chief technology officer Matt Yannopoulos over the past year. However, it does not appear likely the initiative will immediately broaden into a wider rollout at Defence, with Yannopoulos noting it would be a major decision for the department, which has long been a Microsoft shop.

    The news comes as Australia appears to be witnessing a resurgence in interest in open source technologies this year, with the Federal Government taking several bold moves in the area in the past six months.

    In January, for example, the Federal Government dramatically changed its position on the use of open source software by departments and agencies, publishing a policy which mandated the consideration of such options in any technology purchase. Previously, the Government’s stated policy on open source had been one of “informed neutrality” — meaning agencies picked the technology (closed or open source) which represented the best value for money and fit for purpose.

    In addition, in July the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), which sets central government IT policy, released a second version of its guide to open source software for departments and agencies. It appears as if the Department of Defence’s trial is linked to the department’s move to join the Open Technology Foundation, an organisation set up by the South Australian Government in late 2010 to promote the use of open systems in government. Defence sits on the organisation’s board.

    However, all three moves come after a long drought period in Australia when it comes to public sector interest in open source software.

    Thoughout the middle of the past decade, heightened interest in platforms such as OpenOffice.org, the Mozilla Firefox web browser and the Linux operating system on desktops was seen in governments around Australia and even private corporations such as Telstra, as chief information officers sought alternatives to Microsoft’s strong grip on the industry.

    The interest resulted in few local deployments, however. Last year AGIMO revealed just three percent of government desktops were using Firefox, despite the browser’s strong popularity on private machines. And this year, AGIMO revealed 99.5 percent of government desktops were running Windows, with 86 percent using Microsoft Office.

    In addition, AGIMO’s survey of agencies last year showed that those percentages were actually slated to increase — with no agencies planning to upgrade to any software in the future, other than that provided by Microsoft. Windows 7, Office 2007 and Office 2010 were the sole platforms mentioned.

    Wow — you simply have to give Defence chief information officer Greg Farr some credit for changing the internal culture within the department’s technology operation since he joined the organisation in November 2007. From being one of the government’s most conservative technology operations to running trials of OpenOffice.org — that’s a big jump for Defence. Much of the credit should also be laid at the doorstep of Yannopoulos, who we hear is quite the innovative thinker.

    It’s also fantastic to see interest in OpenOffice.org kicking off again in government. While there was quite a degree of interest in the suite half a decade ago, that interest has waned over the past few years, as Microsoft has solidified the integration between different layers of its enterprise software stack. It’s just too hard to pick anything other than Office these days, when the suite offers such great integration with other platforms such as Exchange, Active Directory, Windows Server and so on.

    In this context, its great to see some competition creeping slowly back (even just a little bit) into the desktop productivity suite market. It’s never a great outcome when one player dominates any market as strongly as Microsoft is this scene right now.

    However, realistically, it is unlikely Defence’s OpenOffice.org trial will really get anywhere in the long term. At its heart, Defence is quite a conservative organisation, and it won’t want to be the first in the Federal Government to deploy a radically different desktop software suite.

    Farr and Yannopoulos will be quite aware that their efforts are much better spent on initiatives such as the overhaul of Defence’s troubled ERP systems, for example, rather with toying with alternative desktop suites which offer no real sustainable organisation advantage over the incumbent. It’s a pity — but that’s enterprise IT life in 2011.

    Image credit: Brian Li, GNU Lesser General Public License

    Print Friendly


    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. Anonymous
      Posted 29/08/2011 at 2:37 am | Permalink |

      I feel like once again the government is just a tad out of date. OpenOffice.org is slowly being eroded by other productivity suites like LibraOffice, because of its bloated nature.

      • Anonymous
        Posted 29/08/2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink |

        *LibreOffice, but they’re similar enough at the moment for comparison, I’d say. Deployment no.

    2. Owen
      Posted 29/08/2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink |

      Start with standards. Point out that DOCX YYYX was created to subvert the opportunity in Open. Point out that OpenOffice et al are more compatible with Microsoft Office than is Microsoft Office.

    3. Edward
      Posted 29/08/2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink |

      Germany’s defence department got rid of MS software in preference for open source software due to closed source security concerns., in particular a cryptographic key in Windows Server possibly connected with the NSA.

    4. Chris Brandstetter
      Posted 30/08/2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink |

      We have been using OpenOffice in our Law Firm of 20 users for 4 years now. After the first 6 weeks of people complaining that they just like MS Office better and never giving a good reason we have had very few problems, fewer than we had on MS Office.

      • Povalva
        Posted 31/08/2011 at 3:58 am | Permalink |

        That’s good to hear. Do the users still dislike using OpenOffice comapred to MS Office, though? Did they just shutup and grumble internally, or are they actually using OpenOffice and getting their work done effectively and quickly without it?

  • Get our weekly newsletter

    All our stories, just one email a week.

    Email address:

    Follow us on social media

    Use your RSS reader to subscribe to our articles feed or to our comments feed.

  • Most Popular Content

  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Legacy health software lands SA Govt in court doctor

      In which the South Australian Government comes up with complex legal arguments as to why it should be able to continue to use a 1980’s software package.

    • Microsoft wants to win you back with Windows 10 windows-10

      The latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system will begin rolling out from Wednesday (July 29). And remarkably, Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to those users who already have Windows 7 and 8.1 installed.

    • Qld Govt Depts have no disaster recovery plan brisvegas2

      Two sizable Queensland Government departments have no central disaster recovery plan, the state’s Auditor-General has found, despite the region’s ongoing struggles with extreme weather conditions that have previously knocked out telecommunications and data centre infrastructure.

    • ASD releases Windows 8 hardening guide windows-8-1

      The Australian Signals Directorate appears to have released a guide to hardening Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, three years after the software was released for use by corporate customers, and as Microsoft is slated to release its next upgrade, Windows 10.

    • ASG picks up $35m CIMIC IT services deal money

      Perth-headquartered IT services group ASG this week revealed it had picked up a deal worth at least $35 million over five years with CIMIC Group — the massive construction and contracting group previously known as Leighton Holdings.

  • Blog, Policy + Politics - Jul 31, 2015 12:43 - 0 Comments

    Google ploughs $1m into Australian tech education

    More In Policy + Politics

    Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 31, 2015 14:16 - 1 Comment

    Legacy health software lands SA Govt in court

    More In Enterprise IT

    Industry, News - Jul 28, 2015 12:37 - 0 Comments

    ICAC to investigate NSW TAFE ICT manager

    More In Industry

    Consumer Tech, News - Jul 29, 2015 17:14 - 11 Comments

    Telstra integrates Netflix, Stan, Presto into re-badged Roku box

    More In Consumer Tech