German SMEs and Linux

InfoWorld has our second open-source story of the day: this time it is about German SMEs and their resistance to Microsoft’s licencing policy:

“Let me be very frank — German mid-size companies don’t care much about IT today because they’re being forced more than ever to focus on their core business,” said Lars Kloppsteck, IT manager at Heinrich Berndes Haushaltstechnik GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer of cooking utensils in Arnsberg, Germany. “They have two primary criteria: IT must preform; and, above all, it shouldn’t cost much. That’s why open source software is high on just about everyone’s agenda.”

The potentially lower cost of deploying and maintaining open source software, such as Linux and OpenOffice, “is clearly what prompted us to seek an alternative to Microsoft,” Kloppsteck said. “And I know many other small and medium-size companies in Germany are dropping Microsoft for the same reason.”

In fact, one of the main reasons why open-source software, particularly Linux, is catching on with SMBs in Germany is the support they are receiving from distributors, systems integrators and other software service companies, according to Volker Knittel, account manager with Avnet CMG GmbH, a software distributor based in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany.

I’ll be talking more about the affordable computing ecosystem that India needs to build today at BangaloreIT.com. I’ll put up the presentation (it is only 4 slides) here on Sunday.

Vietnam and Open-Source

Silicon Valley writes about Vietnam’s solution to software piracy – eliminate Microsoft.

The initiative is Vietnam’s solution to software piracy, a rampant problem that threatens to derail the country’s economic aspirations.

Vietnam implemented a trade agreement with the United States in 2001 that requires the government to bring down the piracy rate. And the government also needs to do that to meet its goal of joining the World Trade Organization by 2005.

Microsoft Windows and Office cost at least $140 in Vietnam — way out of reach for most people, where the per capita annual income is roughly $420.

People know they can use the pirated products with impunity. And they have grown comfortable using Microsoft, which, in its illegal form, has dominated the market here for years. So getting them to switch to open source won’t be easy. But bureaucrats at the Ministry of Science and Technology are determined to try.

They are promoting a plan that would require all state-owned companies and government ministries to use open source by 2005. And they would require all computers assembled in Vietnam to be sold with open-source products installed on them.

The prime minister is expected to take up their proposal this fall.

To get young people comfortable with the free software, the government plans to distribute computers to 5,000 schools nationwide next year — all of them equipped with open source.

Will India be the 195th (or 202nd) nation in the world to adopt a pro-open-source policy? India has a chance to lead, but we aren’t even in the race. The irony is that by adopting a pro-active policy which mandates greater use of open-source software, it is India itself which will benefit.