School district and OpenOffice

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School district and OpenOffice

Postby Eli L » Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:44 pm

Hey everyone,

Im trying to get my school district to allow me to install OpenOffice on my school's computers. Right now I'm emailing the main tech guy at the district and I need to know what to say to destroy his argument.

Here is his inital response:
I'm very reluctant to move in the direction of Open Office because of serious challenges it would bring with our standard district image and increased bandwidth demand. I understand that compatibility is a challenge, especially since Microsoft moved to an xml-enhanced file structure with Office 2007. However, a better solution that maintains compatibility with the rest of the district and with district images is to install the Office Compatibility Pack on computers with earlier versions of Office.


After a response from me asking clarification he said:
To maintain a support structure that minimizes our TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), we need to ensure that each of the 6000+ workstations have the same standard software suite. So when computers go sideways, often because of incompatibilities with third party software, instead of installing each application separately, we burn a new software image on the computer that includes our district standard suite of software. That includes the Microsoft productivity suite, but also a host of standard drivers that helps everything work together. The bandwidth issue with Open Office is not that we would need to push it over the network, it is that Open Office is designed in such a way that it hits the web more often does the Microsoft product. (Actually, by default Microsoft does the similar stuff, but we can do things down here to control the problems it creates.)


Open Office has some great attributes, and the initial price is certainly right. However, independent research by the Gartner Group has demonstrated that there are significant hidden costs when it comes to training and support. In an enterprise environment, it is more cost effective to stick to a single standard, and at this time, our standard is Microsoft Office.


What I need is evidence/a good argument as to the bolded statement. Do you guys know what he is talking about there?
Any other things to tell him that you think would change his mind would also be appreciated.

I am NOT giving up on getting OOo installed on my school's computers before I graduate (in june).

Thank you!
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby Villeroy » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:40 pm

Eli L wrote:I'm very reluctant to move in the direction of Open Office

This is the only relevant sentence. The other one is totally unclear to me. Hit the web? It works completely offline unless you link web-contents into office documents.
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:25 am

Perhaps he's talking about the Check for updates feature (that can be switched off)?
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby Eli L » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:41 am

Villeroy wrote:
Eli L wrote:I'm very reluctant to move in the direction of Open Office

This is the only relevant sentence.

Not really. That just means that he doesnt like the idea because he likes to restrict the customization of computers in the school. So dont worry about that.

Hagar de l'Est wrote:Perhaps he's talking about the Check for updates feature (that can be switched off)?

Possibly. Are there any other idea what this might be?

Also, does anyone foresee any issue (security, exploit, ANYTHING) that could happen if OOo is installed?
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby FJCC » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:35 am

Allow me to play the Devil's Advocate. Though his technical arguments are mostly hogwash, let's look at the situation from th tech guy's point of view. He has an IT system to support and someone who will leave the district in a few weeks wants to introduce a new software application which will duplicate the function of an established application. At best, he will then have a little more work to do, and he probably feels overworked now. He will certainly have document compatibility problems to deal with. At worst, some unforeseen problem will arise on some of the computers and he will have angry customers asking why this junk was installed. Is there any benefit to him or the district in installing OOo? There won't be any cost savings unless MS Office is removed, and doing that is going to produce a lot of work and upset people. Unless you can show that there will be significant benefits to installing OOo, he is going to wait until you graduate.
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby Hagar Delest » Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:20 am

FJCC wrote:There won't be any cost savings unless MS Office is removed, and doing that is going to produce a lot of work and upset people. Unless you can show that there will be significant benefits to installing OOo, he is going to wait until you graduate.

+1.
A switch must be global to avoid future frustration. Sad for challengers like OOo but the productivity and even costs for maintenance/training are at stake. So the decision has to be his also. He must be deeply convinced, to bear the responsibility of such a change.
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby acknak » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:03 am

I wonder if you might get a better response by offering to help set up some kind of pilot program, to actually test OOo in your environment; to get some idea of what the actual issues are in your situation. Quoting some industry analyst is no substitute for actually testing the software with your tasks.

While I understand the IT person's reluctance to change anything, change is unavoidable, and it's irresponsible to face expected change without some kind of rational plan. If nothing else, it can only help when you have to go back to Microsoft for new licenses, to be able to tell them that you've done some testing and they're not the only game in town.

That may be too far down the road for you to be involved, but maybe you can get them thinking about it.
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby squenson » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:49 am

I would use a very different approach:

First, you should obtain from the school district some information about the Microsoft licensing program: i) Do they buy licenses per year to have access to the latest release of Microsoft Office (something called "assurance program") or ii) do they buy licenses once and for all. You should also obtain information about the timing: when are licenses counted and when are purchase orders raised and invoices paid. All this should be public information, maybe not immediately publicly available but the school district cannot refuse to provide it.

In case i), this represents between $0.4 to $0.8 million per year. I can also assume that MS Office 2003 is the version that is currently installed, on Windows 2000 or XP. Therefore, the school should have a plan to migrate to Office 2007 or even wait a few more months and directly jump to Office 2010. This will represent a significant migration, not in terms of costs of licenses (they are paid annually) but in terms of change of the image and training of the Users. Therefore, it is the right time for the school district to consider moving to a free alternative like OpenOffice. The savings will be the annual costs of the licenses, not bad in those tough times.

In case ii), you are even in a better situation. Not only the school district needs to budget the costs of the upgrade but also the training of all Users. Costs of the upgrade will be in the range $1 to $1.5 million.

Second, I would develop a transition plan. It is unrealistic to move overnight from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice. You need at least a year for that where both products will be available on each machine. This is where the IT guy is involved: he should develop a new image with both suites, develop some training materials, "sell" the solution as a cost effective approach for the coming years (money comes from the tax-payers!) and mention the openness of the file format. Then, on year two, Microsoft Office would be removed from 90% of the computers. You will still have those people (mainly professors) that will claim that they cannot use OpenOffice, it is too this, not enough that. Leave them both products and ask their management to force them to change over the second year. By that time, OpenOffice will be in version 3.3 and a very good and stable product.

Third, I would keep Microsoft informed of the plan and demonstrate to them how serious the school district is about moving away from Office. It will do wonders and magically the prices will decrease. Again, if this is the only thing that can be achieved, everybody in your school will be happy. Remember that only one thing brings costs down: competition!

Fourth, try convincing some students in the year before yours to continue your activity. Being alone, your quest will fade after June. Bring the younger generation in, brief them, convince them to help reduce the costs of education in your district, mention that they will find a lot of support in this forum. Last but not least, this can be a very valuable experience to put on a CV and therefore they will benefit from participating.

All the best and keep us posted.
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby Eli L » Fri May 01, 2009 6:00 am

Thanks everyone. I have a plan but I'm not going to do anything until 3.1 is released.

For now I wrote this:
http://www.eliloewen.com/blog/2009/04/m ... penoffice/

It has everything so far..
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby Villeroy » Fri May 01, 2009 12:39 pm

Your Blog wrote:I did my research and it really pisses me off how far my district is corrupted by Microsoft.

Evidence? I mean, curruption used to be a serious accusation and it' not the same as stubborness, lack of phantasy, incompetence or lazyness.
Your Blog wrote:Another thing in this is that everything he is saying is sounding like he thinks that by installing OOo, Microsoft Office just goes away. Not the case. One of the main reasons I want OOo on these computers is because all the computer labs (except one) have Office 2003 or even Office XP. That means students are forced to use an office suite that is about 8 years old/outdated.

As long as security updates are provided, any of these "outdated" MSO versions is "better" than OOo, compared by features and gimmicks. What you can actually do with such an application mainly depends on the file format. Microsoft's binary office formats did not change between 1997 and 2007. A mixed environment with 2 different big office suites under one operating system can be considered as unproductive. This has nothing to do with corruption. Nobody has ever been fired for installing Microsoft.
As long as the decision makers can accept the serious drawbacks of proprietary software while having access to their preferred office suite on good economic terms there is no need to install anything else. Evangelisation does not help to spread this software.

 Edit: I moved this whole thread from "Troubleshooting" to "General". 
Please, edit this topic's initial post and add "[Solved]" to the subject line if your problem has been solved.
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Re: School district and OpenOffice

Postby Eli L » Fri May 01, 2009 6:06 pm

Villeroy wrote:
Your Blog wrote:I did my research and it really pisses me off how far my district is corrupted by Microsoft.

Evidence? I mean, curruption used to be a serious accusation and it' not the same as stubborness, lack of phantasy, incompetence or lazyness.

The source in that paragraph is my evidence of the corrupt statistics being used my the SD.
Villeroy wrote:
Your Blog wrote:Another thing in this is that everything he is saying is sounding like he thinks that by installing OOo, Microsoft Office just goes away. Not the case. One of the main reasons I want OOo on these computers is because all the computer labs (except one) have Office 2003 or even Office XP. That means students are forced to use an office suite that is about 8 years old/outdated.

As long as security updates are provided, any of these "outdated" MSO versions is "better" than OOo, compared by features and gimmicks. What you can actually do with such an application mainly depends on the file format. Microsoft's binary office formats did not change between 1997 and 2007. A mixed environment with 2 different big office suites under one operating system can be considered as unproductive. This has nothing to do with corruption. Nobody has ever been fired for installing Microsoft.
As long as the decision makers can accept the serious drawbacks of proprietary software while having access to their preferred office suite on good economic terms there is no need to install anything else. Evangelisation does not help to spread this software.

 Edit: I moved this whole thread from "Troubleshooting" to "General". 

Its not so much about feature aspect of it, but about the philosophy of letting student use open source software instead of proprietary software in a learning environment. My view is more on the ideology and less on the business of it (although I do understand the business of it more or less)
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