Key Indian IT services organization moving to Linux

A government owned IT services organization in Tamil Nadu in south India embraces Linux and other open-source software

The Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), a government-owned organization that delivers IT services to the southern India state of Tamil Nadu, has decided that its projects will be deployed on open-source software, including Linux.

ELCOT decided in favor of open-source software because of its lower cost than proprietary software from Microsoft and other vendors, C. Umashankar, managing director of ELCOT, said Wednesday. Open-source software also provides better ease of operation and higher security, he added.

The company will migrate from Microsoft at the server and desktop levels, according to Umashankar. "My job is to save cost, and open-source software delivers the same if not more efficiency at a marginal cost," he added.

ELCOT negotiated with Microsoft to lower the price of Windows XP Home Edition to 500 Indian rupees (AUD$14), but the company was not willing to cut prices on the software, Umashankar said.

Tamil Nadu is a key state in India, and the decision by ELCOT to move entirely to open source could lead to the state government adopting Linux, according to analysts. ELCOT has already implemented a number of applications for the government running on Linux, and the government is awakening to the benefits of open source, Umashankar said.

ELCOT is also a procurement agency for computers and software for the Tamil Nadu government.

Another south Indian state, Kerala, announced last year that it had decided to promote free and open-source software in education, but would not make it compulsory. The government would like to avoid a monopoly by Microsoft and would like to provide equal opportunity for Linux and Microsoft's Windows operating system in schools, said M.A. Baby, a minister in Kerala's Communist government, in August.

India's federal government has, however, declined to take a stand in favour of either proprietary software or free or open-source software. Some Indian federal and state agencies have been beneficiaries of Microsoft's programs to promote the use of IT in schools.

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