Let's not beat around the bush. Clients ask me, "Sam. What ever shall we do about Microsoft's rapacious intent to lock us in for another 10 years?"
I say plainly, directly and with confidence...
Step 1 - ODF-enable your present desktop
Step 2 - get your information, business processes & messaging onto the server, i.e., into the browser
Step 3 - change to any desktop you wish (except Vista or Novell SLED10)
I frame the steps in general terms because the right & precise action will shift every six months as, for example, things like Google Docs becomes better integrate-able via the Google API to any business processes you might wish to route through there.
Objective: get off the forced upgrade treadmill
Different strokes for different folks: right now, this could mean laying OpenOffice.org 2.x.y onto your Windows 2000 or XP machines. For less disruption to users we recommend the OpenDocument Foundation's ODF Plugin for MS Office installed into Windows 2000 or XP. We also envision an immediate move right into Google Docs for the basic-functioning workgroups -- which in some settings can be up to 85% of personnel.
Any of these moves, or combination of moves, means you'll begin soon generating new documents and workflows around ODF. That's good. Whatever changes are in store for the rest of your architecture, the soonest possible move into ODF document creation and workflows buys your working groups future flexibility.
Objective: end-of--life Exchange/Sharepoint; get data and activity to the browser; re-engineer business processes through an open-source messaging environment that is ODF-ready.
This is the most costly, scary, time-consuming and least talked-about requirement for migrating out of Microsoft's lock-in round-house. In part, that's because when we think ODF we are thinking documents, office suites, not e-mail. Sorry to interrupt your reverie. This is also the step which varies the most from one shop to the next, so I'll be brief.
Workforces are getting distributed. Every day there are new reasons to put workflows and business processes into the browser and there are fewer cases of programmers working to develop shrink-wrapped software that needs to be installed locally; and there is a lower and lower appetite to support client-server applications when good Web 2.0 apps exist.
The radical CIO will have a plan already to get EVERY BUSINESS PROCESS in his organization into the browser. This enables personnel to be more productive: they can move around and access their data from any machine at or outside the workplace, and especially at home. The productivity gains are immense, and the cost-reduction is immense, too.
Achieving this will enable that CIO to get out of the desktop provisioning business altogether. This is the steady-state target end-game of Step 2: B.Y.O. Desktop.
BYO Desktop is the state in which the organization will provide each employee a credit of $99 per year for providing their own desktop computer. The only thing the company provides is a 17-inch flat-screen monitor and a $12 and 95-cent keyboard. Two 19-inch flat-screens for high-performers or for the jobs that need them. It's a cost-cutting, productivity-improving measure in the less-is-more mold. Sounds radical today...
"Why get rid of Exchange? I thought the problem was at the document format?" you ask. It's simple: Exchange is where the business process flypaper dangels. And that is where Microsoft is most effective dialing the document format manipulation dial. Exchange is the e-mail hub but it contains more document integration every version. Sharepoint is practically free, and it lies dormant waiting to be lit up and hoover all your workgroups' documents in. If Exchange is flypaper, then Sharepoint is quicksand: documents that go in there never come out. Microsoft can end-of-life an entire operating system, as they did with Widows 2000 in the real estate industry, with a simple security patch one Friday afternoon to Exchange that meant Exchange WebAccess would only work with IE7. Seems innocuous until you recognize that IE7 does not run on Windows 2000. Remote Windows 2000 users had e-mail turned off like a lightswitch.
Get yourself AWAY from MS Exchange if you value ODF!
We envision Zimbra for e-mail and portal services instead of Exchange (but Zimbra still needs to talk to the OpenDocument Foundation about bringing its ODF capabilities current).
Objective: get a desktop that is invulnerable to single-vendor leverage.
This means a BYO Desktop policy; or, for now,
- Red Hat,
- Ubuntu, or
- Mac OS X
They top my present list due to a) robustness of the software; b) stability of development community; and c) their well-established and uncompromising respect for open standards. I said to avoid Vista (self-evident) and Novell SLED 10; the latter is the very best Linux desktop today, but it is so now tied to Microsoft's mal-intentions for your future that it is best to be categorically avoided.
Go forth. Migrate!