Microsoft's Ballmer and Aussie Defence ink cosy new agreement
It appears that Linux and FOSS are two concepts that have yet to penetrate the conciousness of the inner sanctums of key Australian Government agencies. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last week met with the Australian Department of Defence, to sign a joint agreement reaffirming the "strong relationship" between the two organisations.
The Australian Government sector - Federal and State - is by far the nation's biggest single user of IT hardware and software, accounting for more than 40% of all sales each year. The annual IT budget for Department of Defence is around $700 million, supporting 90,000 desktops and notebooks and 5,000 servers.
During a lightning visit to a Australia last week by the Microsoft CEO, the new agreement was signed between Mr Ballmer and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence, Mr Peter Lindsay MP.
The new agreement further entrenches Microsoft in the privileged position it holds within Australia's defence establishment to the detriment of open source technologies.
The story had a certain flair. In early March, the chief information officer of the Federal Aviation Administration, David Bowen, was reportedly considering forsaking Microsoft Windows and Office in favor of the Linux operating system and the Web-based Google Apps Premium office suite.
Could this be true? Might an office suite upstart topple the giant of giants? Does a Web-based suite of applications have enough punch to do the job?
Perhaps. Google does offer a strong set of collaborative word-processing and spreadsheet tools, in addition to e-mail and calendar capabilities. "We built the [applications] from the ground up to focus on collaboration," said Mike Bradshaw, who leads Google's federal enterprise division. "They're providing a new type of functionality to the space that people have been looking for."
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