Not without its bugs in the first few working days in our new “open” world, we have finally completed our migration to open source!
For the first time we have now shut down our old Windows servers, and are now running every possible application we can on open source platforms.Â The final “big switch” was done over xmas by Rich and I, swapping all the main desktops for new Dell machines runningÂ ubuntu 8.04 lts, and crucially the phone system from Trixbox.
So this is the new configuration we have – its a recipie list for UK SMEs thinking of migrating to open source:
Open source machines (15) and phone system
- SERVERÂ – Netgear ADSL DNS and DHCP router running embedded linux
- SERVER – Phone system running on a Dell TRIXBOX
- SERVER – Network attached file storage running FREENAS
- DESKTOPS – 9 running UBUNTU 8.04 LTS
- LAPTOPS – 2 running UBUNTU 8.10
- HARD PHONES – 5 SNOM 300 hard phones
- HARD DECT PHONES – 2 SNOM M3s
- FAX MACHINE INTERFACE -Â a Cisco 186 which has been configured to interface a fax machine with a TRIXBOX VOIP phone system
- SOFTPHONES – running EKIGA and HUDLITE with TRIXBOX
- SOFTWARE – company wide use of FIREFOX, OPEN OFFICE, GIMP , PIDGIN and other FOSS software for general business use, mostly from the universe.
- a VISTA “pool” machine to run SAGE accounting system – we cannt migrate this to Linux and swapping accounting systems is not viable – SAGE is the UK SME default accounting package and has widespread adoption and credability.Â As far as I know, there is not an open source accounting system that is considered robust enough for UK HMRC inspections (systematically paying incorrect taxation is the only thing I could go to prison for as a result of this migration!) We also use this machine via remote desktop for ad hoc applications that will only work on windows (an old copy of Adobe Homesite for extended find a replace of website files is the main one, as there isnt a GUI linux program for this)
- a VISTA desktop machine to run our graphic design software, Adobe Illustrator, Coreldraw and Photoshop – all industry standard software we cannt do without and stay in business.Â Due to the demands on that CPU, it wasnt practical to have all the windows apps on one machine.
- 4 legacy windows boxes (98/2K, XP) that are essentially embedded into printing machines that just cannt be replaced as they are essential to running the machines – no choice here.
- a “legacy” XP laptop that will be replaced with Ubuntu when it dies in due course.
So, as you can see we have made huge progress since we started this journey to migrate us, a UK SME to open source software in early 2007.Â It has been a long time coming, expensive to migrate, and in the end we have decided that some applications just have to stay on Windows.Â That said, I am absolutely delighted to be in the position we are now, which is a much stronger platform for the future that were we were.
You may be interested in our experiences of migrating, in a short bullet list form:
- We have practically 100% compliance with software license conditions for everything we use in line with our values.
- Open source is, in our opinion, more reliable than windows, and often has better features than the comparable windows software (take my migration to zimbra as an example).
- We get lots of support from the FOSS community and are proud to be part of it
- Ongoing cash license fees are low. We currently pay for Zimbra Standard and Zimbra Mobile at $1125/year – considerably more than the Â£400 a year it was when we first started using it in 2007.Â The main reason for using it is the online sync for calendar and contacts for 2 users (the directors) – the rest of the features we can easily do without, so may revert to the open source edition at some time.Â We also have a 5 year cycle of SAGE upgrades, but thats pretty cheap in comparison at Â£300 ish.
- We have control of our IT investment future, and are not locked to one vendor with endless upgrade costs over years to come for MS OSs and the MS OFFICE packages.
- We have a lot of different operating systems to support now, I can count 7 easily, but it hasnt proved to be much a problem so far.Â The linux OSs are part of packages eg TRIXBOX, FREENAS, the embedded windows ones are not networked and never need touching, and the remaining VISTA machines are manageable
- The majority of the business world dosnt accept common open file formats, eg ODS, so we have to send MS version copies outside the company.
- It takes a lot longer than you think to migrate, especially if you have to write your own code.
- The cost of the migration has been significant, the vast majority in reprogramming and improving our old MS ACCESS MIS system into a web based framework.Â Short term pain, long term gain, it needed to be done for business continuity reasons, but its a cost that needs recognising.
- EKIGA / HUDLITE interfaced with TRIXBOX isnt as user freindly as our old non SIP VOIP system called SWYX, at least not as yet with 2 weeks use under our belt.
We still have some bugs to address, notably problems with the SNOM phones not interacting relaibly with HUDLITE and the M3s not making outging calls , but we are essentially complete.
I’m sure this could go for a while, but I’ll stop there.
Any more questions, please ask!
Huge thanks to Richard Jones our IT manager who has delivered this project with total commitment, and Jake, “Dave” and the rest of the team at Senokian who have guided us, fixed bugs, got us out of the s**t a few times when we broke things by tinkering and generally supported us all the way at all hours of the day and night.
I hope this post, which has taken some time to prepare, is useful to some – if it is, please, please leave a comment as I’d really enjoy hearing from people who have read this summary and laugh, cry, or think, yes, we could do that too, becuase you can.