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California Should use Open Source and VoIP 109

Albanach writes "ZDNet is reporting that a report from independent auditors and experts has recommended that the State of California adopts open source software and Voice over IP as part of a series of moves that, the report says, could save the state $32 billion over five years. Additionally, they recommend the State establishes a centralised technology division to handle all their IT needs reducing redundancy and generating further savings."
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California Should use Open Source and VoIP

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  • Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 15, 2004 @11:54AM (#9974044)
    • Nonetheless (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We can post new comments.

      I am curious about the potential software-patent ramifications of having open source software adopted by state governments.

      If the adoption is made, and open source code is widely and successfully integrated in one or more state governments, and THEN a legitimate software patent on some new technology prevents the state from being able to make use of the new technology, could this add any weight to the re-examination of the software patent issues in America?

      Or will it just cause t
      • Re:Nonetheless (Score:2, Insightful)

        by redfcat76 ( 772716 )
        If a patent is made that would apply to technology that already is it valid?
        • Re:Nonetheless (Score:2, Insightful)

          by tiger99 ( 725715 )
          They are not, but the USPTO is so overloaded, and a daresay incompetent at upper managerial level, that almost anything gets through without proper checks for prior art. Groklaw is one place to go for info on that.
  • No IT department? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toetagger1 ( 795806 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @11:55AM (#9974048)
    "Additionally, they recommend the State establishes a centralised technology division to handle all their IT needs reducing redundancy and generating further savings."

    Does that mean that they did not have an IT department before? I quess they had one for each location/unit, but even that thought seems rediculously ludacrus.

    • Not really (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When you think about how IT sprang up, it probably just sorta happened that way. Each unit that needed IT got it when it was appropriate. Now that everyone needs it, it makes sense to make one bigger IT group.
    • While "rediculously ludacrus" has a certain ring to it, I personally prefer "ridiculously ludicrous".
    • Governmental Divison (Score:5, Informative)

      by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:07PM (#9974118) Homepage Journal
      Normally state government has a lot of redundancy. Most departments/divisions/agencies ( depending on they are called in California ) are nearly autonomous units, from the director right down to the mail room people.

      There are reasons FOR this, since a lot of departments are forbidden by law to share resources ( funding sources ) and information ( privacy ).

      Is this stupid? Perhaps in many cases, ( not all but many ) but its the way things often work in any governmental situation.
    • by DAldredge ( 2353 )
      It means that before vendors had to bribe a bunch of smaller IT depts, this way they only have to bribe one to get the same result.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      it's not any worse than your spelling of big words poorly trying to look all bright and important either. USE A DICTIONARY before being a pompus pugnacious pedantic prick.
  • Only little girlie men wouldn't learn to use FOSS.



    And VOIP be ooh so sexy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 15, 2004 @11:57AM (#9974058)
    So CA is going to "use open source" in order to get price breaks out of Microsoft, then?

    Isn't that how these stories always end?

    -Rob L Dreene
  • by pc486 ( 86611 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @11:57AM (#9974060) Homepage
    ... I tend to find them: 7236&tid=103&tid=117&tid=185&tid=9 8 []

    Must be the season for dups.
  • by Zombie ( 8332 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @11:57AM (#9974061) Homepage
    It's it's a a great great idea idea to to use use open open source source software software to to battle battle redundancy redundancy! []
  • by BubbaThePirate ( 805480 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:03PM (#9974097)
    A: Ja, I vant centralized control of all communication, power lines, and, ummm... all armed forces.
    B: But, Governor, won't the people object?
    A: Ja... so, throw some buzzwords to confuse them. Like that open source thing. And add VoIP to the list. We'll call it Sky(pe)Net.
  • We know (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:04PM (#9974102) Journal
    That this is a dupe. On the other hand think of the number of computers owned by the state of California. That's a bunch of license fees for M$ to lose, Win and Office. We can only hope.

    A billion here a billion there and pretty soon your talking about real money - Sen. Everett Dirkson
    • Don't worry. Even if they do switch, they'll still pay full license fees for every computer once are audited by the BSA.

  • I think it would be a great test for the US economy to get people on west coast time (and work ethic) using software that doesn't meet point and click simplicity.

    A beautiful exercise in controlled chaos!
    • No, CA is not efficient...

      I am a reasonably intelligent person earning a decent living, so I get to pay infinately more in CA state taxes than the illegal aliens who are living a couple miles away and sucking up school, hospital, and other resources paid for by citizens.

  • From the Department of Redundancy Department...
  • Additionally, they recommend the State establishes a centralised technology division to handle all their IT needs reducing redundancy and generating further savings.

    Ahh, this would be like the Navy saving money with the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.... Well, when viewed against that as a model, it's clear that they'll save money.

    *evil laugh*
  • Typical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tirinal ( 667204 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:18PM (#9974165)
    I always find it amusing how top-heavy bureaucratic governments (even 'democratic' ones) always seem to make choices based on common sense and simple efficiency only after the steady stream of free money they're grown accustomed to suddenly dries up. This is why budget spending really should be a lot more open to peer review than it already is.

    Not that the average person cares much about trifles like the multi-billion dollar gap between Windows-imbedded programs and open source, but it would be a nice token gesture.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Some of the best VoIP software around it open source. The SIP stack at is INHO one of the very best SIP stack I have seen - and I have see lots of them. Cisco open sourced an incredible mount of technology at and recently Pingtel open sourced a IP PBX system at The asterix system has been used by many people. There is a lot of open source VoIP software and it is used in many products and many large commercial deployments. Call traces from the things lik
  • by jeanicinq ( 535767 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:19PM (#9974174) Homepage
    I noticed that the laws state that the judges and court rooms may use software, the the laws do not regulate how the software is used. For example, one software package made by California Family Law Report [] is suppose take the parents income and expensense and calculate child support amounts.

    That software, DissoMaster [], does not show its work on how it calculated the child support based on whatever given input. Currently, there is no way to appeal those calculation because that process is "closed." The input on the software is not verified. Anybody can enter any kind of input and have the software spit out some amount for which the court then deteremines as the amount to pay.

    "The typical model for software acquisition in state government involves the purchase of closed source software solutions from the major vendors. Closed source software is any software whose source code is hidden from the public view. Under most licenses the user cannot modify the program or redistribute it."
    br> I tried to contact CFLR to gain the source code to show exactly how the court erred in more than a 500 offset of the calculation. CFLR did not responde to my many attempt to contact them.

    We can tell that such closed source software can be easily abused. The software didn't take in account many factors. It needs to be greatly improved. Not only does the input need to be verified, but the work needs to be shown so that parents can rebut the calculations for any factors that did not into the equation. We need to put the democracy back into the software the court uses by open source regulations and exclude privatization of such code. Any software code used in the court room needs to be as public as every other written law.
  • by DragonMagic ( 170846 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:29PM (#9974223) Homepage
    Now if only Slashdot could hire someone to find duplicates before they're posted. But then again, dupes help with revenue, as twice the stories means twice the adviews!

    [NOTE: Just a little sarcastic tone, nothing bad meant]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...but other states will be able to adapt much of the software to their own use, with their improvements being rolled back into the software that California uses. Having each state as a testbed for open source software is a natural fit with our Founding Father's plan to have each state as a testbed for democratic governmnet.
  • by RealBeanDip ( 26604 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:40PM (#9974283)
    A few years ago my ex-company, which lived on the bleeding edge, adopted VOIP. It sucked. People sounds like aliens. Our customers were turned off and complained. Eventually we went back to regular old phone service, while more expensive, actually worked.

    I recently called d-link tech-support, I suspected they were using VOIP because the audio quality sucked. I actually asked the tech guy and he said yes, they were using VOIP and everyone hated it but the company was holding fast on it.

    So my question is, if VOIP sucked back a few years ago, and still sucks now, why adopt it? Does anyone like it? Is the savings worth the fact that your customers don't like and your employees don't like it?
    • I've been doing work recently for a startup company that uses VOIP and the quality doesn't suck at all. Maybe not all VOIP is the same.

    • Yes, I've been happy so far. I've always tested technologies @ home first -- and have switched over various offices and continue to do so where and when appropriate. The only real problem has been _guaranteed_ [outbound] fax transmissions over VoIP lines. Voice quality has been excellent [SIP based].

      At home my initial problem was simply lack of bandwidth. Internally I've moved to 1Gbit LAN and have a _solid_ 10Mbit wireless uplink to the Internet [full duplex]. This is where the problem came in with the ro
    • My brother went over to Vonage a couple of months ago, and the sheer audio quality is brilliant... especially on trans Atlantic calls (back here to the UK).

      Mind, him having a 5Mbit Optimum Online account probably helps avoid any latency/speed issues (unless the systems goes down).

      • I tried to find info on Optimum Online re: their speeds, and they never discuss them. I didn't read the entire FAQ but it wasn't one of the questions I could see. How would you go about finding more about it, short of calling them? (A quick re-search showed them mention 10,000 Kbps and 3,000 Kbps in different sections, but no mention of pricing for these different plans.)
    • by Anml4ixoye ( 264762 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @03:01PM (#9975141) Homepage

      My former workplace, a county government, is in the process of switching everyone over to VoIP. A lot of the employees are in one building and so sit on the gigabit backbone throughout the building. They also employed traffic shapers to make sure that VoIP traffic had priority.

      Saying all that, the quality was excellent. It was rare to have any glitches, and at the time we had close to a thousand of the employees on it. I even had a Cisco softphone on my laptop that I used to make calls while connected over VPN from another country that was crystal clear.

      I think, if you have the bandwidth and the sysadmins for it, it is a wonderful technology. But I wouldn't use it at home unless I had a dedicated pipe coming in.

      • I think, if you have the bandwidth and the sysadmins for it, it is a wonderful technology.

        No, it has almost nothing to do with the bandwidth...

        The slowest network connections you'll find in a corporate environment, are more than fast enough to support thousands of VoIP calls.

        The primary issue is having admins that setup QoS properly. Your home DSL/Cable line should be more than good enough to support a half-dozen concurrent conversations (unless you have a very unreliable ISP in the first place).

    • We use VoIP internally, over 100 Mbps Ethernet, and it works great, much better than analog and much cheaper (no extra cables.) However don't try it over Internet - the voice will be broken up and all jittery. So we have Asterisk PBX which takes all our VoIP and analog lines and switches them onto several POTS lines. That works.

      We have the PBX registered with SIPPhone, IAXTel and FWD, but we use VoIP over Internet only to talk to friends, and the jitter sometimes is very audible.

  • by Maul ( 83993 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:41PM (#9974286) Journal
    Arnold: This Microsoft software needs to be terminated. Bill Gates is a girlie-man. Say Hasta La Vista to Windows, and say hello to Linux.
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @12:47PM (#9974312) Journal
    California should stop specifying implementation and start specifying functionality, development cost, and maintenance cost.

    What the fuck should they care if their payroll is done in Perl on Linux or COBOL on MV/JCL as long as it hits the budget number?

    Let the contractor pocket the difference, or negotiate a lower price.
  • by Sfing_ter ( 99478 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @01:01PM (#9974410) Homepage Journal
    State Parks - they use Novell Groupwise and earlier this year were contemplating moving to MS Exchange; Since the Novell/SuSE deal I have been waiting for them to make the OSS move but so far no go. A lot of the IT staff are MCSE factory drones that had to "learn this Novell thing". They are hampered by spyware and caught by virii now and then.

    If Novell could make embed OOO into their groupware, that would be the ticket.
    • If Novell could make embed OOO into their groupware, that would be the ticket.

      And if I could make fucky fucky I be in boom boom movie.

      What do you mean by OOO? (OO.o) or Out of Order, OoO? AFAIK OOO doesn't mean anything, but YMMV.

  • by Linus Sixpack ( 709619 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @01:49PM (#9974764) Journal
    Government use pushes software back into the public forums of education and function. Why shouldn't our subsidized universities produce software that everyone can use without further payment. We will always need people to customize it and explain it but we do not need Billionairs to sell it.

    Government solutions should be for the benefit of all the populace. Hidden Source software resells the same solution over and over again. Why not solve it once for everyone.

    The security and savings are far more than beneficial to the average voter than the millions spent by special lobby groups. I wish this was more widely known.

    • "Why shouldn't our subsidized universities produce software that everyone can use without further payment."
      Was that (University of California at) B(erkeley) S(tandard) D(istribution)? (What is `Berkeley Software Design'?)

      And what did the University of Helsinki ever produce?
  • Well Duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cluge ( 114877 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @02:13PM (#9974895) Homepage
    It seems that this is an obvious no brainer. Things that we will still have to worry about.

    1. His Honerable Socialist Chairperson Muckety Muck in LA country insists on using his laptop. The network traffic produced by the viral infected thing screws VoIP up for the county.

    2. Expect to see the regional bell SBC sue the state, and insist that it should be paid for a percentage of VoIP traffic that travels over the network

    3. Expect legislation and/or rules designed to take the software that you and I pay for through taxes, and give it to some company/cousin of the grand high supervisor elect assistants manager of garbage collection.

    Have you ever been in a state that has so many damn managers and so few people actually working? If California was a company it would be ripe for a "re-structuring". Most sucessful restructures cut out middle management and promote a lean work force (ie we kept the people that actually did something). At the end of the day, what will make or break California is it's citizens. The more services that they demand from their state, without wanting to pay for them, or help in any way the worse off they will be.

  • by rocketjesus ( 32378 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @02:24PM (#9974952)
    We got a VoIP system at work a couple months ago.

    I love it because I can not answer my phone and then tell the person that was trying to call that the phone system had crashed.

    I also love it when it decides to just disconnect my phone conversations in the middle of a

    It's like using a mobile phone, only without the convience of being wireless.

    I want my POTS back. I want a phone that works when nothing else does. I want a phone with 99.99999% uptime, because it turns out that a phone with 97.2% uptime really, really sucks. You wouldn't think it, but those couple of percentage points are the difference between critical tool and useless gadget.

    This would be perfect for government agencies, who really don't want any contact with the people they're supposed to be dealing with, but can't appear to be avoiding them. I see this being a major cost saver.

    "Hello DMV, can I help you?"
    "I just want to know..."
    -click- beep beep beep beep beep

    They can reduce time wasted on calls to an average of 2 seconds, all thanks to the miracle of VoIP.
    • I want my POTS back. I want a phone that works when nothing else does. I want a phone with 99.99999% uptime

      I must say, all the problems with VoIP I've seen, are entirely due to poor administration...

      The single biggest improvement can be made by simply setting up traffic priorities (ie. QoS). If you make sure you links to the head unit are getting top priority over all else, you'll see a huge improvement. It will end almost all dropouts.

      Sometimes, though, you may need to make some additional changes, i

  • by ShadowRage ( 678728 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @03:59PM (#9975479) Homepage Journal
    Mostly on a city basis, The Ontario City library (yes this is california we're talking about here) uses these linux thin terminals (they run off of cd.. and have no HDD) with a modified blackbox to run netscape. They paid a one time fee for the things and that's it.. they get online so you can get into the online catalog and reserve books or check them out online if they're not available at that branch.
  • NYC pioneers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @04:43PM (#9975718) Homepage Journal
    When the World Trade Center, and surrounding buildings including Verizon's "7 World Trade", collapsed after the 2001 planebombings, NYC's phone system collapsed with it. Essential to managing the disaster, the NYC government's 70,000 desktop phones needed to come back ASAP. 2 days later, over 50,000 of those phones had been switched by the City's IT department, DoITT [] to VoIP. Shortly afterwards, that department produced a study that showed that the City's annual Verizon bill is over $100M: that's almost $1500 per phone, every year. After the 2003 blackout, and then a 1-hour Spring 2004 911 emergency switchboard outage that cost someone their life, DoITT has announced they're putting that fat Verizon contract out to bid. Despite any law requiring that, or even any precedent in the century of Verizon (by whatever name) operation of New York City's phones. NYC is currently receiving proposals for voice/data networking [] and moblie wireless networking [] projects, worth billions of dollars. The City Council (legislature) Technology in Government Committee [] has held public hearings on public wireless spectrum issues [] to ensure emergency services have access, and emergency 911 calls over VoIP service [], to ensure that the move from circuit to packet switched phone calls preserves New Yorkers' service expectations. With 10-15 million people here every day, and everyone talking around the world, NYC is leading the way in planning for the transformation of VoIP. We're glad to have California along for the ride :).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    At the non-profit I work for I've been advocating for a move to Linux over the pasty year, this is the first 'official' bit of information to back up my suggesting we look for something more cost wffective and manageable.

    I know for some state agencies it will be tough - there are three state departments that made thier reports Windows centric, one requires reports using Excel Spreadsheets with some Active-x specific macros in it (to circle the errors, nothing big, but the popup controls keep us from filli

  • by John Leeming ( 160817 ) on Sunday August 15, 2004 @06:31PM (#9976268)
    Consider that California has, in the Assembly alone, some 80 separate for each Assembly member, both in Sacramento and in their home district.

    I recently did some repair work in one of these District offices and got involved in a conversation about internet and access.

    Keep in mind, California already has an internal phone system for all State offices, which many counties within California also access.

    What has happened is that SBC has convinced the General Services of Calfornia that the State can "save millions" by buying and paying for DSL service from SBC.

    For the Assembly alone, that's 160 _separate_ DSL accounts, all running at 384K.

    Not such a problem? Consider why I was at their office...

    It took four hours for the people in the District office to print something from the servers in Sacramento.

    Every server within Sacramento is connected by a T-3/OC-12. Regional offices (California is divided into 12 regions for resource allocations) are connected by T-1 or better.

    I fell back to the non-technobabble explanation of them having a drinking straw for internet and Sacramento having a firehose in terms of bandwidth and latency, and they seemed to understand it.

    But the irksome part of the whole is that someone in General Services was stupid enough to buy into and use the SBC explanation to "save money", and never bothered to investigate the _real_ costs.

    By the end of the year, every office not in Sacramento or in a regional facility will be dropped from all connections except ATSS (internal phone system) and SBC DSL connects.

  • There have been numerous articles and studies done that show that getting a Mac can save you lots of money. No need to worry about viruses or virus software, doesn't crash, and is one of the most secure operating systems there is.
  • of provisioning I.T. -- the stereotypical horror stories of serial cost overruns ending in project abandonment, vendor lawsuits, and legislature post-mortem scandal hearings.
    IIRC, the worst involved EDS and the DMV.

  • Some of them may lose their jobs if they can't continue to rip off their own state government...
  • ....It would primarily be implemented on IBM S/390, AS/400, and other big iron machines running customized Linux software.

    Alas, the big loser would interestingly NOT be Microsoft, but someone like Sun Microsystems. Certainly, Dell Computer could be a winner here (selling large rack-mounted servers preloaded with Linux server editions), and IBM would certainly be a winner here, too.
  • you all laughed and mocked and rolled your eyes at Kahleefornya when we voted to remove a "time tested and experienced" governor, and put in a low-quality, summer blockbuster actor that likes to grope hot chicks. Esp you stuck up, pompus, arrogant assholes on the east coast and in the beltway.

    now, we've got a state government about to drop a significant portion of its proprietary software contracts, wants to move us closer to using smart, cheap technologies, and is most likely going to move toward ink-vot
  • State of California

    Go Arnold!!!

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong