Users eyeing StarOffice

A growing number of end users are migrating to Sun Microsystems' StarOffice product suite and other alternatives after the recent changes to Microsoft licensing rules left users upset.

Marc Englaro, director of project management consultancy, System Integration Services International (Si2) said his company is seeing a surge of interest in the StarOffice product suite from their enterprise-level clients.

Englaro said a number of his clients are evaluating StarOffice and open source alternatives, with five of Si2's customers in pilot stages.

"We are also evaluating StarOffice and other alternatives for our customers. The recent change in Microsoft's licensing rules was a big trigger and has upset a lot of people who are now looking for alternatives. Users are not happy that they are being forced into regular upgrades. In our evaluation, we are looking at how open source solutions compare when it comes to change management, and the training involved etcetera," Englaro said.

The actual technical migration and installation of StarOffice software is fast and easy, said Englaro, who pointed out that the technical side of such projects is not where the difficulty lies. The migration of people [to new systems] is the biggest issue, he said.

Englaro said training, change management, data conversion and data compatibility is very important to companies considering migrating.

Si2 is heading up research into the Sun alliance and the StarOffice technology.

"I've been looking at product replacements -- evaluating a particular Microsoft product that can be replaced with something else. As an example Microsoft Office and StarOffice, and the replacement of Microsoft Outlook with a product called Ximian Evolution. We are investigating how well products can replace these," Englaro said.

While Si2 has no formal relationship with Microsoft and is not aligned with any other technology companies, Englaro said, StarOffice does offer a lower starting cost in comparison to the Microsoft Office licences.

"Reducing licensing costs is only one part of the equation, and is certainly not the sum of a successful IT project. Analysis of the objectives, goals and requirements in advance of a decision to migrate will help companies gain true long-term business enhancement, not just short-term dollar cutbacks. This is why we are investigating offering our clients the ability to migrate to StarOffice. We have a track record for implementing IT driven change in efficiencies, effectiveness and profitability, and consider StarOffice to be highly competitive technology that could fit well in some of our client environments," Englaro said.

Currently chairing a Standards Australia committee to develop a national Standard for IT project management, Englaro said that, when formed, "the standard will identify how projects should be run, especially [the type of] IT projects which have a bad track record".

"I think Microsoft may have done itself a lot of damage with this [Licensing 6.0] scheme. While it will improve its revenue stream by people continuously paying for subscription, it has actually made people consider alternatives for the first time -- and these people will now definitely consider their options," Englaro said.

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More about MicrosoftOpen Source SolutionsSun MicrosystemsSystem Integration Services InternationalXimian

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