Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

German state abandons Microsoft for open software

Published 10 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff
A "comprehensive training program" is available for the 30,000 employees of the state administration.

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein wants to become a “digital pioneer region” and the first state in Germany to introduce what it calls a “digitally sovereign IT workplace” in its state administration.

An important step is to stop paying for expensive licenses from Microsoft and other vendors over which it has no control, and instead work with open software and source code. In total, Windows and Office will be ditched on more than 30,000 computers in favor of Linux and freer alternatives.

A cabinet decision has been made to make the open source software LibreOffice the default solution for all government workstations, a decision described as “the first step towards full digital sovereignty”, but further changes are planned.

Minister of Digitalization Dirk Schrödter argues that the future of government is “cloud-based, automated, algorithmic and data-driven” and that government IT applications will soon run as cloud services on the Internet.

– As a result, major vendors of mainstream IT products are increasingly moving their applications to the Internet. We have no control over the operational processes of such solutions and the management of data, including the possible outflow of data to third countries. As a country, we have a great responsibility to our citizens and businesses to ensure that their data is safe with us, and we must ensure that we always have control over the IT solutions we use and can act independently as a state. Securing digital sovereignty is at least as important as energy sovereignty, he said.

“A milestone”

To achieve “digital sovereignty”, Schröder said, it is necessary to avoid paying expensive licensing fees to Microsoft and other players – and instead invest in “real software services in our domestic digital economy, creating value and jobs locally”.

– Our goals for the development of a common digital single market are digitally sovereign solutions and services that we network with each other. As a national government, we use the wealth of data to ensure open innovation, digital value chains and prosperity at home.

– This cannot be achieved with the current products of the standard IT workplace. We take digital sovereignty seriously and are moving forward: the decision to switch to Office software is a milestone, but only the beginning of the transition: the transition to free software for the operating system, collaboration platform, directory service, specialized processes and telephony will follow, he promises.

30,000 to be trained

The change will affect about 30,000 employees in the state administration, who will increasingly work with open software and free licenses.

Among other things, Microsoft Office will be replaced by LibreOffice, the Microsoft Windows operating system by Linux and Microsoft’s Sharepoint and Exchange/Outlook by the open source products NextCloud, Open Xchange/Thunderbird and Univention AD-Connector.

In addition, a new directory service based on open source will be designed and a telephony solution based on open source will be developed to replace Telekom-Flexport.

“The use of LibreOffice as the standard office package for communication between ministries and authorities will be implemented in the short term and its use is mandatory. If the transition cannot be made immediately due to technical or specialized circumstances, possible exceptions will be agreed. A comprehensive low-threshold training program for staff is available and will be updated as needed. In addition, staff will be supported by the government’s central IT management team during the implementation of LibreOffice”, it adds.

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