Last Friday, we started a new subject in the Master in Free Software, entitled “Deployment of Free Software.” In the first class, we can enjoyed with a talk about the migration of systems in the City Hall of Zaragoza, by Eduardo Romero, a member of team of computer technicians of the City Hall.
This project was called AZLinux and began in 2005, represented a huge change in the way of working at City Hall, and was therefore was essential establish a proper strategy to implement many changes, with the aim of making less traumatic migration of workers in the City Hall.
With this objective in the IT department devised a highly original strategy, migrating some applications first widely used in daily work, so that users were accustomed gradually to free software, and then an operating system migration.
During the conversation, I asked to Edurado, as they had solved some problems such as applications in Visual Basic or in Access, as there are no good tools for free software that can replace a simple way, and the answer it was very creative and practical, Wine (for running Accesss applications) and VMWare (virtualization to run legacy applications in Visual Basic). In this way, with a mixed solution, you can run some applications that it is not easy (or impossible) to use with software free, and are not excluded in the process of migration to Free Software.
Another thing that was interesting, and also I absolutely agree with Eduardo, is that it is important and much, change management in such projects, thus not just about making a change, but to inform, educate people, help them make the transition as easy for them, all problems and solutions of course, do not let anyone and anything outside the process of change.
From my point of view, this project is a very interesting example of a Free Software implementation, and also serve many people who raised a change like this in a business, and allows you to see some actions carried out correctly and problems and failures that have occurred in the process, but above all, can see that you can work with free software without problems, even with a mixed solution.
As Eduardo said, there is still much work to do, but it is satisfying to see that it is possible to carry out a large migration, as a guide in public administration for many others, and who knows, the same for private companies.