Total Cost of ownership of Software in use

Henry Bremridge made this Freedom of Information request to Torbay Borough Council

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The request was partially successful.

Henry Bremridge

Dear Sir or Madam,

As one of the major problems of proprietary software is the need to manage expensive software licenses. One of the major advantages of open source software is that you do not. (The Business Software Alliance has various tools on its website that can be purchased to assist in managing software licenses and hence ensure that appropriate costs are paid http://www.bsa.org/country/Tools%20and%2...)

Needless to say a real advantage of open source software is that software integration can be much simpler: because the software details are known.

So that a spreadsheet can be built up of realistic alternatives to current proprietary software, could you please provide details of the following

1/ What software is in use by users of Torbay Council

2/ For all non open source software:

a) How many users are authorised to use the software (both concurrent and total)

b) How many users actually use the program.

Yours faithfully,

Henry Bremridge

Torbay Borough Council

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Dear Mr Bremridge

Request for Information made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 11 May
2009.

We are currently processing your request under the terms of the Freedom
of Information Act, 2000 and will contact you by 9 June 2009.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case a fees
notice will be issued to you, and you will be required to pay this before
we will proceed with your request. We will endeavour to provide any fees
notice within 10 days of the date of this email if it is estimated the
cost of fulfilling your request will exceed the appropriate limit
currently set at £450.00. To find out more information about fees, please
visit [1]www.torbay.gov.uk/foi-fees

If you have any queries regarding this matter please do not hesitate to
contact me directly, quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely

Angela Hellier
Information Governance Officer
Torbay Council

Email: [2][email address]
Phone: 01803 207413
Fax: 01803 201175

Mail: Information Governance, Torbay Council, Town Hall, Castle Circus,
Torquay, TQ1 3DR

Find out more at: [3]www.torbay.gov.uk/accesstoinformation or click on the
logo on the [4]Intranet

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Torbay Borough Council

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Please read the Council's email disclaimer notification which is located at the end of the email message.

Dear Mr Bremridge

Request for Information made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000

Further to your request received on 11 May 2009, the Council requires
further information in order to identify and locate the information that
you have asked for.

In particular, it would be useful to know if the information you require
is concerned with the larger Server based applications (e.g. Council tax,
refuse collection) or Desktop applications.

As I am not able to process this request further without the additional
information from you, your request has been put on hold until I receive
your reply. If I do not hear from you within 30 days of the date of this
letter I will assume that you no longer require this information and I
will therefore take no further action regarding this request.

If you have any queries about this letter please do not hesitate to
contact me directly, quoting the reference number listed at the top of
this letter in all communications.

If you are unhappy with the Council's response to your request and wish to
make a complaint please write to Information Governance, Town Hall, Castle
Circus, Torquay, TQ1 3DR or complete the on-line complaint form that can
be found at www.torbay.gov.uk.

If after going through the Council's complaints process you are still not
satisfied, you can contact the Information Commissioner direct.

Information Commissioner Helpline: 08456 30 60 60
01625 54 57 45
Wycliffe House
01625 545700
Water Lane Switchboard:
01625 524510
Wilmslow Fax:
www.ico.gov.uk
Cheshire SK9 5AF Website:
[email address]
Email (general):

Yours sincerely

Angela Hellier

Information Governance Officer

Torbay Council

Email: [1][email address]

Phone: 01803 207413

Fax: 01803 201175

Mail: Information Governance, Torbay Council, Town Hall, Castle Circus,
Torquay, TQ1 3DR

Find out more at: [2]www.torbay.gov.uk/accesstoinformation or click on the
logo on the [3]Intranet

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Henry Bremridge

Dear Angela

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I am interested in publishing a spreadsheet of back of envelope calculations indicating the extent to which Torbay Council could cut costs by implementing open-source software instead of proprietary models.

Where such calculations indicate that significant savings were possible, the intention would then be to seek a full business case from Torbay Council prior to implementing the change. It is recognised that the actual change will take time and require planning.

As such, yes, data on use of the larger systems would be requested. For example if the Council Tax database was run on Oracle ver .. with up to 500 concurrent users permitted, then in principle that could be run on an open source database. As long as the amortised cost for rewriting the program running on Oracle was less than the cost of the license.

As another example, switching the entire Torbay Council telephone system to Voice over IP could save significant costs and improve service but key elements to determining the practicality of that would be:
a) How many users (telephone lines);
b) How many locations at each location;
c) How many concurrent users (how many lines in operation)

Finally I would also include the desktop software as Bristol, The French Parliament and various police forces have switched from Microsoft Office to Open Office. Published savings from Europe per user on this vary from Eur 450 to Eur 2000. Bristol I believe saved upwards of £1m on converting their 6500 computers.

To be honest, while compliance with licensing requirements would imply that this data is readily available, I would have expected this data to be required internally as part of the annual budget forecast.

Yours sincerely,

Henry Bremridge

Torbay Borough Council

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Please read the Council's email disclaimer notification which is located at the end of the email message.

Dear Mr Bremridge

Further to your request received on 11 May 2009, I confirm that Torbay
Council has completed its search for the information that you requested.

This information is as follows:

Background info:

The vast majority of s/w applications are purchased. We do not have the
resources to write them in-house. As a consequence the underlying
databases are prescribed by our chosen vendors. If we chose to switch away
from the prescribed data base independently then we would invalidate our
support agreement and would not be eligible for any further upgrades or
support. This is not an acceptable position to be in and would leave the
council very exposed in terms of security threats and it's ability to meet
the changing legislative requirements.

The only time when we can have a say is during the procurement process.
The cost of the data base is normally such a small percentage of the
overall cost of any new system that it's not normally a critical factor in
product selection. Also, within the Council it has become current practice
to run consolidated databases so that many systems can be run using one
database licence which makes the cost of the licence during procurement
even less. Most Vendors do not sell the database licences. They expect us
to procure that for ourselves. Regardless of database cost the overall
cost is always a major factor in procurement selection.

I agree with the intended aims here. I think any effort should be directed
more towards our Vendors. We need them to change before we can. At
present, in the main our potential vendors are not yet offering solutions
with options to use open source databases. I would expect that the bigger
system suppliers will not consider switching in either the short or medium
term. In a number of cases the database aspect is not important to them.
What is important to them is that they know and understand what it is they
are working with so that they can offer full support. In others,
particularly with the Oracle systems the vendors would have grave concerns
in terms of reliability and performance of the overall system if they
switched. I am not saying this is right but it's their perception and
would rather stick with what they know. It also saves them having to
re-skill or dilute their existing skills pool. This is going to be a big
wheel that can only revolve at it's own pace. They (the vendors) need to
think that they will gain a greater market share if they offered an open
source product. It should be noted that we would only expect to change our
major apps once every 7 to ten years. The cost of procurement is too
prohibitive to do it more frequently. Any business case needs a reasonable
return on investment to make it viable. This would not stack up if one
took the database change on it's own.

As a consequence, it is my view that any business case that might be
produced purely looking at a database switch would be largely theoretical
and have limited practical use.

The annual cost of the database licences (oracle) compared to the rest of
the software applications is less than 2%. MS SQL does not have an annual
cost.

We tend to buy oracle and MS SQl licences per CPU. This provides the
greatest flexibility and allows re-use and as such the users numbers are
not relevant to us. We currently have 13 Oracle database CPU licences with
one "application specific" licence for planning. We have around 250
separate MS SQL databases currently spread across 38 machines on either a
dual or single processor licence. This is a fluctuating figure as there is
an existing project underway to consolidate the number of servers which
would further reduce our licence requirements when we come to the next
upgrade.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your
own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for
the purpose of news reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial
publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder.

If you have any queries about this email please do not hesitate to contact
me directly, quoting the reference number listed at the top of this email
in all communications.

If you are unhappy with the Council's response to your request and wish to
make a complaint please write to Information Governance, Town Hall, Castle
Circus, Torquay, TQ1 3DR or complete the on-line complaint form that can
be found at www.torbay.gov.uk.

If after going through the Council's complaints process you are still not
satisfied, you can contact the Information Commissioner direct.

Information Commissioner Helpline: 08456 30 60 60
01625 54 57 45
Wycliffe House
01625 545700
Water Lane Switchboard:
01625 524510
Wilmslow Fax:
www.ico.gov.uk
Cheshire SK9 5AF Website:
[email address]
Email (general):

Yours sincerely

Information Governance Team

Torbay Council

Email: [1][Torbay Borough Council request email]

Phone: 01803 207467

Fax: 01803 201175

Mail: Information Governance, Torbay Council, Town Hall, Castle Circus,
Torquay, TQ1 3DR

Find out more at: [2]www.torbay.gov.uk/accesstoinformation or click on the
logo on the [3]Intranet

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