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Queensland government defends Microsoft standardization

Queensland government defends Microsoft standardization

Databases could be next

Despite criticism for maintaining Microsoft's Windows XP, the Queensland government is planning to extend its standardization efforts to databases and servers.

In Queensland a whole of government deal is in place with Microsoft covering the state's 82,500 desktops and personal computers.

However, open source advocates accuse the government of wasting taxpayer's money with bidding geared to favour the software giant.

Cybersource CEO, Con Zymaris, said subverting the power of competitive markets hurts the local ICT industry by keeping innovative technology off government desks.

"A lack of willingness to ensure competition in the marketplace costs Australian taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year," he said.

According to Zymaris few government agencies allow open competitive tendering, instead handing the billion-dollar refresh cycles to Microsoft.

But despite the criticism Qld government sources have confirmed standardization will continue.

In fact, the source said disparate databases and dedicated servers are driving the consolidation effort even further. Plans are afoot to standardize the government's databases across all of its agencies.

Defending its decision to stick with Microsoft, a spokesperson for the Queensland Department of Public Works said it is all about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

"The decision was based on TCO including support, transition costs, and the ease of sharing documents across government departments to deliver efficiency gains and cost savings," the spokesperson said.

"The Queensland government will continue to consider all products that lead to increased productivity, including the use of open source at both the operating system and application layers.

"In our current environment, standardising can assist in managing the environment in the areas of interoperability and costs [because] we gain simple document exchange across government, [and] we reduce the licensing costs associated with any transition to another operating system."

Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines titles automation manager, Michael Droder, said desktop consolidation has had little effect on his XP, Office and VISIO-based IT shop.

"I don't have much say in regards to lifting the Microsoft standardisation because we aren't disadvantaged by it at present," Droder said.

But sources confirmed the Microsoft deal has been ignored by some department employees who maintain open source alternatives on office desktops such as OpenOffice.org and Linux.

Research director at analyst firm Longhaus, Sam Higgins, who previously worked in the Queensland Department of Transport, said standardisation is designed to save money and will not affect the government's ability to seek competition.

"The move will save money through [licensing] consolidation which is wise way to cut budgets," Higgins said.

"They look at what applications are being used and work a solution to fit and they won't cut themselves out of seeking market alternatives."


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