Political tensions and concerns about data sovereignty are reported to be forcing the Russian government to seriously consider its national data strategy. Worsening international relationships and political tensions with the US are thought to be behind a major review of software use throughout government bodies.
Russia is a heavy user of applications from IBM, Oracle and Microsoft, but is said to be considering alternatives – particularly Open Source license products – as a way of reducing dependence on foreign suppliers. The State Duma, the Russian equivalent of the House of Commons, has even gone as far as drafting legislation that proposes a ban on government bodies buying licensed software.
Instead these bodies are to be encouraged to choose Open Source alternatives wherever possible. Russia already has laws in place that severely restrict state purchases of foreign software, instead agencies are expected to choose from an approved list of applications from 2000 local vendors.
Why so draconian? In a recent interview with Bloomberg news, Andrey Chernogorov, executive secretary of the Duma’s commission on strategic information systems said:
"Many local software firms are offering products based on foreign frameworks such as IBM®’s WebSphere or Microsoft’s ASP.net. We are seeking to close this loophole for state purchases as it causes security risks."
Not just security however.
Where political tensions exist, this kind of forward planning makes sense. But the new ban on US-based software is not purely based on security concerns.
The cost of software built using proprietary platforms like IBM WebSphere are typically much more expensive than Open Source alternatives. Russian software developers are charged a licensing premium by IBM that adds significantly to the cost of these new applications.
As well as the purchase price of the software, the government pays for maintenance and support twice – first to the local vendor, and a second for the underlying platform to IBM. These agreements are subject to the same ~20% annual cost (and increases) as your business pays.
Just like every other national government, the Russians have a duty to their citizens to keep operating costs as low as possible. Which is another reason they are choosing to dump applications built on IBM technology.
Could your business follow suit?
Businesses face very similar challenges, the need to increase security and cut operating costs. But is adopting an Open Source license approach really the right strategy for you?
Swapping technologies is never a minor undertaking – consider the last IBM platform upgrade you undertook and the amount of planning and resources required. Moving to an Open Source license infrastructure may require complete redevelopment of key business applications for instance. Then there is issue of skills – does you in-house team have the requisite knowledge and experience to operate a completely different platform.
A simpler way to cut costs
The issue of licensing costs is universal – and hard to ignore. Licensing accounts for a significant portion of your annual software spend – as much as 60% of the total budget. But the costs associated with dropping IBM altogether could be enormous, taking many years to generate a return on investment.
Rather than replacing a stable, reliable platform with an all-new alternative, your business may be better served by investigating the possibilities provided through third party support and maintenance. Choosing a partner like Origina to provide support and maintenance cuts costs by as much as 90% over the lifetime of the contract.
The reality is that unless your business does have state-level concerns about security, there is no reason at all to replace your existing IBM systems with an Open Source license alternative. Such a move is likely to be incredibly expensive and disruptive, offering little by way of performance improvement in the long term.
In virtually every case, maintaining your existing IBM platform with a third party support and maintenance contract is going to be a smarter choice. To learn more, please get in touch.