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The Migration Trend Continues: Russian Government Is Moving to Linux

Bill Malchisky  December 28 2010 03:00:00 AM
Today, the Russian Prime Minister announced that Russia is moving to free software by 2015, with the biggest change being a move to Linux in 2012. Those of you that have attended my Linux sessions at LUGs, know that I am passionate about increasing adoption of this great operating system -- not just because it is incredibly stable and reliable, but it also can save companies significant sums of money in various ways. Besides, Lotus products run great on Linux.

This year (2010), one of the success case studies for increasing ROI in the workplace is The Bank of Russia. They moved their entire banking infrastructure from 74 processing centers down to two data centers with four IBM z9 mainframes running Linux for zOS. They saved $400M (£250M)...they reduced staff, and reduced transaction costs from 11 rubles to 50 kopeks--in American monetary terms, that is equivalent of 11 dollars to 50 cents. Their Linux solution handles 50% of money and 60% of all payments in Russia. So, the savings are quite substantial, plus a system that is trusted and reliable.

With such immediate and beneficial results obtained, and Russia looking to grow their economy, it is easy to see how The Bank of Russia's success caught the eye of the Russian government and Vladimir Putin. The comments on the provided articles above are mixed in-terms of completion probability. For not their already using open source in the schools and the Bank of Russia as examples, I would be more skeptical.

Russia's Linux migration provides multiple benefits for them: (1) Avoids the issues of software piracy, of which their nation is a major player and improves their image in this arena; (2) Saves them money buying proprietary software--for which there is a decent open source alternative and is proven to work (e.g. OpenOffice vs MS Office); (3) Improve server performance while consolidating hardware; and (4) Customization capability for desired packages to meet their specific needs--far easier than with a proprietary operating system or office tools. To be fair, there are some proprietary packages that really have no open source equivalent at this time. Two noted packages include Microsoft Visio and Lotus Notes/Domino: the latter works great with open source programs, and the former works great in a virtual machine on an open source host operating system.

Both Russian migrations follow on the footsteps of England's call for money saving tips from its government employees this past summer. A common theme of the provided suggestions indicated  "Dump Microsoft, Use Linux to Save Money". The final decision on this is still pending, as of this writing. German users are increasing their adoption of OpenOffice and its derivatives--which includes Lotus Symphony, as announced at CeBit 2010, plus the City of Munich completed their migration of 15,000 PCs to OpenOffice from MS Office, plus desktops to Linux (and IBM assisted in this effort). As businesses and governments the world over are starting to recognize the benefits of using Linux for servers and desktop operating systems, plus open source software, quite honestly, I like the trend.
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