Scottish police give open source the boot

Central Scotland Police, which pioneered the use of open source, including Linux desktops, has begun implementing a major Microsoft-based IT overhaul.

Central Scotland Police, which pioneered the use of open source, including Linux desktops, has begun implementing a major Microsoft-based IT overhaul.

The force is to replace much of its open source infrastructure, which was introduced from 2000, with Microsoft technology, including Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Microsoft Office.

The decision to shift to proprietary technology for the force’s 1,000 staff, was made after a best value review in March 2005.

Central Scotland Police has now signed a three-year enterprise agreement with Microsoft. Nick McGrath, head of platform strategy for Microsoft said the company had offered no special inducements for the force to switch platforms.

The company had not provided free consultancy services to the police, as they did two years ago to Newham Council in east London, where a trial of open source technology was taking place.

The police signed a contract under a standard Office of Government Commerce framework agreement, with Microsoft offering the force advice on how to get the best value under the framework agreement, said McGrath.

 “Central Scotland Police estimates that it could save 30% on IT maintenance costs and 25% of IT staff’s time by using Microsoft technology,” he added.

David Stirling, head of ICT for Central Scotland Police said, “Although an open-source solution met our needs in the past, it was becoming more difficult to maintain. “As the need for increased integration and compatibility with other criminal justice agencies and community partners grows, the value of similar infrastructures becomes more important.” Open source installations will be retained in some areas, the force said.

Central Scotland Police will use Microsoft platforms to build a new electronic document management system for better response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, and document sharing for police staff.

They will also create effective “hot desking” for front line police staff, enabling them to log in to core systems from a range of police buildings, rather than having to return to their own office to access systems.

A survey by analyst group Gartner of delegates to its conferences in the US and Europe, found that just 1% of enterprise IT users run any Linux desktops.

It also estimated that the proportion of enterprise users with some Linux desktops would increase to just 3.2% by 2008.

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