Where do Open Source cost savings happen?
Switch to open source and save money, right? It’s to miss the point of open source, but it’s a nice side-effect, and something frequently cited amongst the benefits of switching to open source. But where do those open source cost savings come in? How, to be blunt about it, does switching to open source save you money?
Croation pensions and open source cost savings
One recent convert is the Croatian pension fund. Previously reliant on proprietary software that could handle only a relatively low number of requests a day and that crashed frequently, pension customers were preferring to submit change requests in paper form. You don’t need me to explain the manpower required to handle that volume of paperwork, and its associated costs. The fund needed to address these performance issues in order to increase the numbers of online clients.
So in one fell swoop, the Croatian pension fund was able to process a far greater number of requests and waste a great deal less valuable time pushing paper around, but a greater and more direct open source cost saving has been in maintenance costs. Maintaining the new system costs just ONE FOURTEENTH of maintaining the old one. That’s a walloping saving.
In a savvy move, the pension fund required the code for the new system to be made available with the express intention of using it in other systems. Again, you don’t need me to point out the cost saving that arises from not having to employ people to reinvent the wheel repeatedly. The Estonian Informations Systems Authority has done something similar, and, with the UK, is studying this form o recycling government IT systems such as Estonia’s X-Road, a secure document-exchange system developed by the Estonians. You can read more about Estonia’s example in this article.
The article includes the heart-warming unattributed quote:
“This may be just another online service, but it is one that will raise the bar for other government organisations.”
Let’s hope so, eh? If Croatia can do it, and now Baden-Württemberg, there’s no reason why we can’t follow suit. UK Gov, we’re looking at you.