Sometimes it’s necessary to let go of the past, even if that’s somewhat painful.
Anyone still using MS Office should consider the advantages of moving to LibreOffice. For most single computer users, the move can be made with ease. When multiple computers and users are involved, as would be the case with most businesses, migration must be handled with care. However, any effort in this direction would quickly pay for itself in reduced licensing fees to Microsoft.There are other reasons besides saving money to move to LibreOffice. For one, since the program is platform independent, its use will make easier a later migration to another operating system, such as Linux, should that ever be wanted or needed. Also, LibreOffice defaults to the open standard Open Document Format or ODF, meaning that once this move is made, data once held hostage by Microsoft can be easily opened and edited on just about any office productivity suite. And because LibreOffice is quite handy at opening and saving files using Microsoft’s proprietary format, that function will remain available for those few incidences when it’s needed.
There are a lot of things for companies heavily dependent on Office to consider before making such a move. Unfortunately, good information can be hard to come by. Value added retailers, or VARs, specializing in Microsoft products, for example, will often make the task seem extremely daunting, if not downright impossible as they don’t want anyone moving off of Redmond’s farm. On the other hand, some firms that specialize in open source solutions might be inclined to give the impression that a migration will be much easier than it will be. As is often the case with IT, knowing where to turn for advice can be problematic.
There’ll be good advice available in Atlanta on Thursday April 3rd, however, in the form of a two and a half hour workshop led by Italo Vignoli. The workshop, “Migrating from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice,” is being conducted as part of the Great Wide Open conference.
Vignoli is one of the founders and a member of the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation, the organization behind LibreOffice, where his duties include marketing and communications as well as being an international spokesperson for the project. Before helping start The Document Project, he spent over six years on the marketing team for OpenOffice.org, which was the original code base for LibreOffice. In other words, this is a guy who knows his stuff and who has “been there/done that” when it comes to large enterprise level migrations from MS Office to LibreOffice or OpenOffice.
When I asked the folks at IT-oLogy, the nonprofit educational organization hosting Great Wide Open, about this workshop, they sent the following information they’d received from Vignoli about the workshop:
“Migrating from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice is a complex endeavor, which is prone to failure if managed in the wrong way or by inexperienced people. In order to ensure the success of migration projects, The Document Foundation has developed a reference protocol, which provides guidelines to tackle the resistance to change and address the most common technical problems. The protocol is based on best practices from the most successful migrations in 2012 and 2013.”
I expect that Vignoli will also talk about the economics of such a move, answering pertinent questions such as how much should it cost and how long should it be before the migration pays for itself. In other words, those attending the workshop should be able to determine whether such a move would be right for them.
Again, this workshop is being held as part of the Great Wide Open conference, an open source conference for the enterprise that will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, April 2 and 3, at the 200 Peachtree Special Events & Conference Center in downtown Atlanta. “Migrating from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice” will begin at 1:45 PM and end at 4:30 PM on April 3rd. Admission to the conference on April 3 automatically includes this workshop.
Attending Great Wide Open is dirt cheap. The “Early Bird” special, available until March 19th, is $99 for a single day or $149 for both days of the conference.
That would be cheap enough, but the fine folks at IT-oLogy have agreed to offer an additional 50% discount to readers of FOSS Force. Simply type “fossforce” (without the quotes) into the Promotional Code box while registering online. Users of this discount will pay only $50.00 for a single day or $75.00 for both days. Register soon, as this price is only good through March 19th.
Any company that’s been considering breaking the bonds with Microsoft and moving to free and open source LibreOffice, should try to find a way to get some people to this workshop.