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August 11, 2005

Scottish police force ditches open source for Windows

Central Scotland Police, home to one of the UK public sector's highest profile open source deployments, has announced that it has struck a three-year deal with Microsoft Corp to migrate to Windows Server, Windows XP, and Microsoft Office.

By CBR Staff Writer

The regional police force has been using the Linux operating system and Sun Microsystems Inc’s StarOffice productivity suite since 2000, and was one of the UK government sites involved in proof-of-concept trials that led the Office of Government Commerce to approve the use of open source software on servers and desktops in October 2004.

The police force moved to StarOffice in 2000 and later adopted Linux for a new Area Command office at Falkirk. It also worked with IBM Corp to adopt Linux for a server-based document management system to meet Freedom of Information Act requirements, claiming savings of between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds ($36,000 and $54,000) over five years on hardware costs.

The potential savings of moving to Windows XP and Microsoft Office on the desktop, as well as Windows Server 2003, are expected to be greater though, with predictions of 30% maintenance cost and 25% IT staff time savings. The police force is expecting staff time savings to be made through enabling police officers to access a range of applications from remote locations.

Although an open source solution met our needs in the past, it was becoming more difficult to maintain in the increasingly joined-up environment of today, said David Sterling, head of ICT for Central Scotland Police. 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.

The migration to Microsoft Windows was prompted by the police force’s Safer Central policing philosophy and Operation Advance approach to increasing operational efficiency, which led to a review of Central Scotland Police in early 2005. The review concluded that the force could achieve greater efficiency through the use of off-the-shelf programs, improved compatibility with partners’ system, a reduced number of operating systems, increased access to a range of software products, and the use of familiar technology.

It also led to a study completed by Central Scotland Police in March 2005 that resulted in the three-year enterprise agreement with Microsoft. Implementation of the Microsoft technologies began this month. The force is not abandoning open source completely, and is retaining open source technology for other systems.

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