Missing the point, Gartner style
The Gartner Group does ‘market research’ in the computing marketplace. It is thus a leading contributor to what Manuel Castells describes as ‘informed bewilderment’. In a recent foray, it has latched onto the propaganda backlash against the Munich decision to go for Open Source software for its municipal IT systems. According to The Register:
“Gartner does not say outright that it thinks the Munich switch will turn out to be a costly failure, but it seems to question the move in terms both of cost and methodology. The migration, it says, will cost around o30 million, whereas an upgrade to Windows would have cost o27 million, excluding the extra discounts from Microsoft which Munich spurned. Alongside this, Gartner claims that “many applications will not migrate to Linux” but will be run either as thin client systems or “using virtual machine software, such as VMware.”
Why does this miss the point? because cost was not the issue in the decision. What was clearly uppermost in the minds of German policymakers (not just in Munich BTW: same sentiments can be found among senior politicians in the Bundestag) is preserving freedom of manoeuvre in the longer term. Sometimes, the short-term costs of avoiding lock-out may be greater than the cost of continuing to acquiesce in accepting supply from a monopoly.