Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Open Office Saves Money

Creating a more fiscally responsible technical infrastructure has brought a lot of change to how Distric 219 operates day-to-day. It started with moving our students off of GroupWise to GoogleApps, then the faculty and staff moved from GroupWise to Outlook, and now to GoogleApps. Each of these changes has brought substantial savings to the district, more than $180,000 over a three-year period by eliminating costly hardware and software licenses and maintenance contracts.

During our annual summer clean-up we will be migrating all workstations from Windows XP to Windows 7. We are also phasing out our dependency on “big box” products such as Microsoft Office, in favor of a free and open source products, like Open Office 3. Open Office has been on District 219 computers for a few years now and is very similar to the Microsoft products. Among the most appealing features is that Open Office is exactly the same program that is installed on the netbooks, so there is 100% compatibility with students and Open Office integrates well with GoogleDocs. Open Office also can open a variety of file types, including Microsoft files.

Being fiscally responsible is a priority when moving forward with any initiative - Microsoft’s pricing structure provides for either an annual (maintenance and upgrades, included) or perpetual license (out-right purchase, no future upgrades or maintenance). District 219 has 576 office workstations, these are areas solely for faculty/staff administrative use. If we were to purchase an annual license for each of these 576 workstations, it would cost more than $12,670. Purchasing a perpetual license for those same computers will cost $33,400. To install MS Office on all 2,214 computers District-wide, would cost $128,412 for a perpetual license and $48,708 for an annual or one-time license.

Moving to Open Office provides faculty and staff free and open source options and improves the cohesiveness of the AAL initiative. Training is always available in each building’s PDC and online through Use your network log-in and password to begin.

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