Brief: Indian state Kerala has opted for open source alternatives and it enabled them to save $58 million each year in licensing costs.
Souther Indian state Kerala fondly called God’s own country is in news for a good reason. Our friends at FossBytes reported that adopting free and open source policy has resulted in an annual saving of ₹300 crore i.e. ₹3 billion (roughly US $58 million).
Kerala, India’s first 100% literate state, introduced mandatory IT classes in schools in the year 2003. Two years later, the adoption of free and open source software begun in phases. It was a long-term plan to boot out proprietary software from the education system.
K. Anwar Sadath, executive director IT@School program, said their main job was easy classroom transaction of chapters including customization of applications, teachers’ training, and video tutorials. He further added:
The proprietary version of this software would have incurred a minimum cost of Rs 150,000 per machine in terms of license fee. Hence, the minimum savings in a year (considering 20,000 machines) is Rs 300 crore. It’s not the cost saving that matters more, but the fact that the Free Software license enables not only teachers and students but also the general public an opportunity to copy, distribute and share the contents and use it as they wish.
Today, computers in schools of Kerala run Ubuntu Linux. Free and Open Source software like GNUKhata is used for accounting and LibreOffice replaces MS Office.
Kerala is not alone. It’s neighbor state Tamil Nadu has also switch to Linux from Windows XP. Open Source seems to be gaining official support in India. Indian central government is also working on a nation wide open source policy under its mammoth Digital India program.
Open Source adoption is a growing trend worldwide and government organizations are using it to cut down the cost of proprietary software licenses. Several European cities, government organization sucha as Lithuanian Police, Italian Military etc have opted for Open Source solution and saved millions.
Bulgaria went one step ahead made open source compulsory for all government used software.
It’s heartening to see public sector organizations embracing open source policies. I am certain that we’ll hear more such open source adoption in coming years.