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Barriers to London's open source adoption

Open source technology in the GLA

The GLA's Technology team support the elected Mayor, Assembly, and approximately 700 staff, who in turn serve a capital city of 7.56 million people.

While desktop users will mostly see the standard Microsoft offering — Windows XP, Internet Explorer, Office 2003 — much of the back-office kit in the basement has long run using Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The GLA also started to use Drupal for building web sites, starting with a few custom-made interactive web sites such as the open Datastore and the public consultation for the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. More recently, the main GLA web site moved over to Drupal, drawing the attention of the London Assembly committee tasked with scrutinizing the GLA's budget. Why? Because they were able to drop a web site project that had run up a bill of £1.2m using proprietary software and moved over to a new Drupal web site that cost £150k.

Drupal offered other benefits in addition to the low price tag. Drupal's extensive library of modules, which enable them to easily offer more interactive web 2.0 sites, made it the most attractive option from a technical point of view. This wasn't the case in 2006, when the GLA couldn't find an open source Content Management System (CMS) that was sufficiently powerful. According to evidence [PDF] laid out to the London Assembly committee by Daniel Ritterband, the GLA's Director of Marketing, Drupal offered other long-term advantages:


Read the full case study.


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