Thursday, 12 March 2009

Do as the Swedish Police: Save money on Open Source!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with Per-Ola Sjöswärd, executive IT strategist at the Swedish National Police. That organisation is already way ahead of most of us when it comes to Open Source adoption. But they have higher ambitions still.

The Rikspolisstyrelsen logotype is on many Sun slides, as an example of an "Enterprise 2.0" type MySQL customer. Besides sounding cool, the "Enterprise 2.0" name is supposed to portray what all the organisations in that group have in common: They're generic enterprises in any industry, and they use the same internal IT architecture as Web 2.0 companies use externally.

The Swedish Police, to be specific, doesn't use just Web apps internally. But still, we're talking about a 70% share. The other 30% are based on the Java Swing architecture, so it's still fairly portable and far away from vendor lock in.

The figure 70% also goes for the share of their IT budget that is allocated towards internal application development. Only 30% of their apps are in areas such as HR or ERP, where generic solutions can be applied. All applications specific to the "industry" of being the police authority have to be tailored to the needs of the Swedish Police, as no generic apps in this area exist.

That, in turn, means that the main headache of their IT and CIO should be the future compliance and maintenance of their own code base. By contrast, the main headache should not be about vendor lock-in or the cost of proprietary licenses. And that is exactly where the Swedish Police is heading: Lack of vendor dependence, very low licensing costs and total cost of ownership through Open Source.

In the CIO corner of we have described how Per-Ola took the initiative that led to the Swedish Police having adopted a multi-tiered architecture built on Java Enterprise Edition and Open Source components. That architecture they call LIMBO, for Linux, MySQL and JBoss. Now, they're taking the next step -- migrating their old apps, based on Tuxedo, to LIMBO. This iniative they call "Ren IT", meaning "Clean IT" -- as they're cleaning up their legacy application architecture.

That's no small undertaking. We're talking 33 applications, with a total rewrite effort of 107.000 man hours.

That rewrite effort requires a budget of 9,1 million Euros, which is money that has to be taken from somewhere as it isn't part of any default budgets. On the other hand, that still represents a huge savings compared to the 21 million Euros they would have to spend just on licenses, proprietary server hardware and maintenance alone (no new functionality!) to hold on to their current Tuxedo solutions, which also includes proprietary operating systems, server hardware and databases.

The Swedish Police is making bold moves, but doing absolutely the right thing with taxpayer money. The savings of over 10 million euros translates to quite a lot of police cars, or full-time police officers concentrating on what the Swedish National Police is in business for.

What a great role model!

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