Power French legislator with a full free software environment

Save time, money and security all in one fell swoop
Technologies: 
Debian / Kubuntu / OpenOffice / OCSInventory / FAI
Context: 
Thousands of users working on legislative missions.
Very high turn-over (representatives and assistants).
Non techno-savy users need easy to handle office environment.
Objectives: 
Industrialize IT desktop deployment.
Facilitate machines inventory and monitoring.
Provide a free software, easy to use environment for end-users.
Missions: 
Configuration and deployment of FAI and OCS Inventory.
Pilot projects and hands-on training to help users with change in practices.
Full support on the infrastructure.
Benefits: 
Immediate benefit with hundreds millions euros saved in license costs.
Automated deployment spares time for admins to spend on other tasks.
Long-run gains in costs and in data safety and durability.

What better than free software to support citizen representatives in their free speech?

More than 1500 representatives (including their substitutes) and twice as much assistants work in one of the two chambers of French Parliament. As in all similar institutions, several challenges must be seen through for collaboration to stay at its best:

  • With hundreds of text discussed yearly, and ten thousand times the amount of mails on it, all informations and discussions must be kept over years. This means not only having a reliable storage to put documents on, but also being sure that documents can still be read and modified many years after.
  • Between the high turnover of representatives' assistants, representatives having to resign for various reasons and the quinquennial elections, the user base changes very often, by no small amount. Making users' lifecycle time-consuming to manage for administrators (configure and deploy for new ones, archive data and remove permissions for ancients).

The French National Assembly was insatisfied with its current infrastructure. Following the example of other administrations, they wanted to make a steep turn towards free software solutions:

  • For immediate economical gains first, to set an example on public spending reduction by saving on software licenses (often a significant part of IT budget).
  • For more mid-term benefits then, as free software gives administrators beter control and flexibility on their infrastructure.
  • For the long-term assurance, finally, that by using standard and documented file formats for all documents produced, these will be still accessible in five, ten or more years.

LINAGORA provided advice on the migration plan and helped them realize one step at a time, by setting up pilot projects around a few motivated users, then expanding progressively the user base through experiences feedbacks and hands-on custom trainings.
We also set up two useful free software in infrastructure management: OCS Inventory, renowned solution for IT park management, and FAI (Fully Automatic Installation) to deploy new desktops with only minimal human action.
Finally, a support plan covering the full desktop (Kubuntu) and associated office suite (OpenOffice.org) was subscribed for four years, to iron any issue that may arise.

Nowadays, the global feedback of National Assembly is a very positive one.
Representatives got their bearings on the KDE-based desktop environment (which was configured at first to be similar to a Windows one, to ease migration). They now communicate everything through a durable, standard document format by using a powerful, free alternative to Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org.
On the administrators side, the huge efficiency gain in daily infrastructure management spared them much time to work on evolution strategy or end-user support.