[Nottingham] Discussion: OSS Migration

Richard Smedley rs at m6-it.org
Fri Jul 11 12:43:07 BST 2008

On Fri, 2008-07-11 at 09:04 +0100, Jonathan wrote:
> During my summer vacation I'm interning at a large Management/IT
> Consultancy firm who are very Microsoft focused both in terms of the
> solutions they offer and the working environment they provide. This
> got me thinking. My question is, rather broadly, what experiences and
> challenges have you faced in migrating systems to OSS?

People first, then technical challenges.

Firstly, you need management on-side to push through
changes. People don't like change - they're used to 
coming to work to do a job, and a new desktop with 
different menus disrupts that.

You can manage that change through training. Sit the
users down with OOo Writer and walk through a job 
they'd normally do on MS Word; most will quickly 
see that it's not actually *difficult*, just slightly
Beginners have no real problem. Power users, with lots
of macros, do.

Change for change's sake is never good. It has to fit
into logical stages as part of an overall IT strategy,
so start with the IT strategy :-)

Many people just use Office and Internet apps, and the
change is fairly easy. Accounts are likely to be 
dependent upon proprietary apps. Investigate alternatives,
but go for the easy changes first (usually back-end
servers, and desktops for new users and upgrades).

Again, always change as part of overall IT strategy,
not just because people *ought* to use FOSS ;-)

Technical challenges - we use Ubuntu and Debian, and
most things just work, but test everything first ;^)

WINE works surprisingly well for some proprietary apps,
and has meant some organisations have been able to 
switch over totally to GNU/Linux, if not yet to wholly
Free Software.

In the case of your consultancy, are they wed to particular
CRM/ERPs or project management software?


 - Ricahrd

Richard Smedley,                                          rs at m6-it.org
Technical Director,                                      www.M6-IT.org
M6-IT CIC                                         +44 (0)779 456 07 14

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