A few days ago I wrote about the group of 18 open source vendors that were protesting a Government of Switzerland no-bid contract. At the time, Microsoft didn’t get back to me immediately but they said they would — and now they have — with a ‘Microsoft spokesperson statement.
“The Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics (BBL) has been a Microsoft customer for many years,” Microsoft’s email to me stated. “The recent contract between Microsoft and the BBL is a renewal of an existing contract between the two organizations. If you have additional questions, please contact the Swiss Government’s Department of Purchasing and Logistics.”
For the record I also directly contacted Red Hat which is one of the lead vendors opposing the Swiss deal. Red Hat also was only able to send me a brief statement and did not respond directly to the questions that I asked. Following is the statement I got from Red Hat.
“Free competition is a good thing. Lock in is not,” Rob Tiller, assistant general counsel and vice president, IP for Red Hat said in an emailed statement. “Red Hat has long been a proponent of choice and we will continue to work to further free choice and competition.”
So what does this all mean?
Well for one, it raises the question of whether or not a contract renewal should have an open bid (I think that a government likely should, but then again there are likely costs involved with change).
It also highlights the huge role that an incumbent vendor has in any organization. While choice and freedom are always good things, if an organization is already using software that works for them, the challenge of making a change is a large one.