• Catch issues early, fix them fast – Free trial


    [ad] With GFI Cloud you can easily manage and secure your remote workforce – wherever they are, from wherever you are! The simple IT management platform includes patch management, antivirus, web protection, monitoring and remote control. Get the benefit of endpoint protection with the ease of central management. Start a free trial now.


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

  • 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.

    opinion/analysis
    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

    submit to reddit

    6 Comments

    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 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:


  • Most Popular Content

  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds — AustralianSuper, CBus, HESTA and more — is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, as was revealed in November, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well, and the Financial Review last week reported that Superpartners is actually close to turfing it altogether and going back to the drawing board.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT


    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications


    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry


    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights