FOI request: Public sector favours legacy over open-source storage

By Sooraj Shah
19 Jun 2012 View Comments

Local and central government departments in the UK are favouring legacy storage systems from the likes of IBM and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) as opposed to open-source storage, according to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The request was made by open-source software provider Nexenta Systems, and the revelation comes despite the government's efforts over the past few years to cut costs and create a level playing field between open source and proprietary software vendors.

Further reading

The FOIA request looked into the storage buying habits of 48 local and central government departments, with 44 responding to the request.

It found that departments were spending, on average, £236,004 each year on storage, with some departments investing as much as £1.8m.

The report found that each terabyte (TB) of storage is costing departments about £2,000, with some spending close to £5,000 per TB and buying an average of 101 TB of storage every year.

It said that resellers are still pushing legacy brand names such as IBM, NetApp, HP, HDS and EMC and that only one local council admitted to using open source storage, but this was on a relatively small scale at just 100GB.

Evan Powell, CEO at Nexenta, believes that the public sector needs to reconsider its strategy of buying storage, and was sceptical about the government's claims that it would promote the use of open source solutions.

"It's incredible to think just how much of British taxpayers' money is being wasted on expensive storage solutions due to a combination of vendor lock-in and general apathy. And it is sadly ironic that open source based storage is growing massively faster outside of the UK government despite the government's proclaimed preference for open solutions," he said.

The government's ICT strategy was released in March 2011 and aims to cut costs, boost governance and promote the use of open-source software.

"Where appropriate, government will procure open-source solutions. When used in conjunction with compulsory open standards, open source presents significant opportunities for the design and delivery of interoperable solutions," the ICT strategy reads.

The government has published a toolkit for procurers on best practice for evaluating the use of open-source solutions, and to assist with the deployment of agile solutions using open-source technology it has established an Open Source Implementation Group, a System Integrator Forum and an Open Source Advisory Panel.

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