CERN has been quietly preparing a move to open source software products after Microsoft revoked its academic discount and introduced a new contract that was set to lead to a tenfold increase in licensing costs.
While the vast research institute – home to the Large Hadron Collider – had secured a ten-year-long “ramp-up profile” to accommodate for the price hike, it said the costs associated with being billed on a per user basis were unsustainable.
But last year, amid fears about so-called “vendor lock-in”, CERN’s technology department began work on a project which would ultimately reduce the organisation’s dependence on commercial suppliers.
In a memo published on Wednesday (12 June), Emmanuel Ormancey – deputy group leader at CERN – explained that the project has been designed to retain data, avoid risk and dependency, and create a uniform user experience across the organisation. Ormancey said most public research institutions “have recently been faced with the same dilemma”.
“The first major change coming is a pilot mail Service for the IT department and volunteers this summer, followed by the start of CERN-wide migration. In parallel, some Skype for Business clients and analogue phones will migrate to a softphone telephony pilot,” added Ormancey.
“Many other products and services are being worked on: evaluations of alternative solutions for various software packages used for IT core services, prototypes and pilots will emerge along the course of the next few years.”
The institute is now calling on tech workers at other research institutes to join its initiative, which it has called the Microsoft Alternatives project or MAlt for short.
“While the Microsoft Alternatives project is ambitious, it’s also a unique opportunity for CERN to demonstrate that building core services can be done without vendor and data lock-in, that the next generation of services can be tailored to the community’s needs and finally that CERN can inspire its partners by collaborating around a new range of products,” said Ormancey.
Microsoft has been reached for comment.
Source:: Daily Times