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Monday, October 17, 2005

I guess you could say they're not employing a Steamroller approach

From heise online:

Through a "gentle" Linux migration the city of Mannheim in southern Germany is aiming to become "fit for the future." Although the go-ahead was already given last year, when requirements were assessed and scenarios discussed, it is only now that the migration of basic services has entered its final phase. In the current quarter the Oracle Collaboration Suite is to be deployed and by the end of 2005 the migration to Linux of all registration, file-management, and printing services is to be completed. This implied that by the end of the year 1,100 network printers would in all likelihood be managed via a central print server, the administration of the city of Mannheim declared.

It is in this city that a "gentle migration" approach is being tried -- in the course of which the basic infrastructure services such as the city administration's 110 servers are migrated first and it is only at the very end that the 3,700 PCs of the employees with their 150 different specialist software applications are switched to the new system. This helped to keep training expenditure at manageable levels and prevented staff from feeling overwhelmed by the requirements of the new system, the city administration noted. So far the administration's staff is still employing the Windows applications it has long been familiar with. The city however has already commissioned a study on the introduction of OpenOffice. It would probably take another four to five years before Linux appeared on the staff's PC desktops, Gerd Armbruster of Mannheim city's IT department told heise online.

Mannheim was the first major German city to proceed along this path, he said. The rationale for Mannheim's approach was provided by the recommendations to rely more extensively on Open Source in the public sector given by Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior and the European Union, Mr. Armbruster observed. The officials of Mannheim's city administration are inspired and guided in their endeavor in particular by the Migration Manual issued by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior.

As in the case of Munich, where the city administration was also migrating to Linux, Microsoft's decision in 2004 to end its support for the operating system Windows NT had been a major factor contributing to the outcome of the decision-making process, Mr. Armbruster pointed out. New investments in IT infrastructure would have been necessary in any case, he added. The technical partner to all phases of Mannheim's "gentle migration" is IBM.

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