The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is a huge organization using some of the world’s most powerful particle accelerators. Yesterday, CERN revealed the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt), which was started an year ago to reduce the anticipated software license fee of Microsoft products.
In the past, Microsoft considered CERN as an “academic institution”, offering huge discounts on software license fees. Due to some unknown reasons, Microsoft informed CERN that it should start paying license fees as a commercial organization going forward. This change will increase the license costs of CERN by more than a factor of ten. Since this cost increase is not sustainable, CERN decided to launch the MAlt project to find open source software that reduces cost over the years.
- The first major change coming is a pilot mail Service for the IT department and volunteers this summer, followed by the start of CERN-wide migration. In parallel, some Skype for Business clients and analogue phones will migrate to a softphone telephony pilot.
- Many other products and services are being worked on: evaluations of alternative solutions for various software packages used for IT core services, prototypes and pilots will emerge along the course of the next few years.
We have seen several high-profile switch overs to Linux in the past. In most of the cases, after several years, organizations tend to switch back to Microsoft products. It will be interesting to see how CERN’s plan pan out in the coming years.