Nanium is an independent Portuguese company and leading semiconductor manufacturer (formerly known as Siemens Semiconductors, Infineon Technologies and, most recently, Qimonda Portugal) with 13 years of accumulated experience. Its main products are high-speed memories for the computer industry, used primarily in high-performance products such as graphics cards and consoles for the latest-generation games. Faced with the need to reduce its overall costs, Nanium evaluated OpenOffice.org as a possible software solution, but ultimately chose Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, whose benefits clearly outweighed costs compared to the open source solution.Situation
In 2009, as the semiconductor company formerly known as Qimonda Portugal was re-structured and re-named as Nanium, those in charge were seeking to reduce costs in every part of the company. Nearly all of the software needed for production operations was created internally by the company's team, while productivity software was licensed from Microsoft.
Jorge Ferreira, Nanium’s IT Director, explains that Qimonda Portugal had a central software license managed by the parent company in Germany for everything involving the operating system and productivity software for workstations.
||Contrary to what happens with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org has little integration, and does not offer the same level of combined features to which we are accustomed to, and which are important to us.
“Everyone was used to Microsoft products,” says Ferreira. “Everyone uses these tools very intensively, and around 30 percent of the company's users know how to use VBA (Visual Basic for Applications).”
When the parent company (and, as a result, Qimonda Portugal) began the insolvency process, immediate action was taken to reduce costs in every part of the company. In the case of the IT department – since the benefits of a centrally-negotiated business licence had been lost – the idea of changing all workstations with productivity applications (350 out of the company’s 500 computers) to Linux and OpenOffice.org was considered.
“We did a pilot to get user feedback, to find out whether it would work,” explains Ferreira. Each user who took part in the pilot had two computers: His or her regular machine, and a second PC with Ubuntu (a popular Linux distribution) and OpenOffice.org, the best-known open source productivity software.
“This was at the beginning of 2009. For four or five months, those participating in the pilot used the Linux plus OpenOffice.org solution,” says Ferreira. “We then gathered feedback in an effort to understand their likes and dislikes, together with the solution’s blocking points. In the end, we wanted to understand what we would lose by not choosing Microsoft.”
Nanium’s conclusion was that the loss would be significant.Solution
“The decision made in the last quarter of 2009 was the most consistent option at every level: To keep Microsoft Office, which was more efficient in terms of cost and continued high user productivity,” says Ferreira.
Of 500 total personal computers, many were used in production control processes, but nearly two thirds – around 350 computers, including desktops and notebooks – were in fact workstations used in routine productivity tasks.
However, there was one point of concern: The equipment could have a hardware configuration problem. Ferreira explains that the average age of the computers used at Nanium was between three and four years old.
||There are fewer features in OpenOffice.org compared to Microsoft Office. It doesn’t have programs functionally equivalent to Visio, it doesn’t have Project, it doesn’t have Outlook and it doesn’t have OneNote…For us, this loss represents a significant cost, since it means that we must have more employees to do the same tasks.
The average configuration is only 1 GB of RAM, an irony not overlooked by Ferreira since Nanium is a memory manufacturer. At the end of 2009, the computers were fitted with Windows 2000 and Microsoft Office 2003, i.e. a Windows version no longer supported by Microsoft and a slightly more recent (but also outdated) Microsoft Office edition.
Nanium’s IT department began by updating the software in 120 of the 350 computers, with no need for hardware updates for the time being. “We will wait for the need to happen,” says Ferreira, who stated that RAM may be updated in the near future if there is a need. “RAM is accessible, but complete hardware is expensive,” he says.
The deployment, which began at the end of 2009, included Windows 7 and the stable beta version of Microsoft Office 2010, with the productivity software updated to the final version. The migration is yet to be completed as some PCs run applications that still do not work in Windows 7.Benefits
Ferreira says the decision made was pragmatic, which resulted from gathering and processing feedback from the pilot’s users.
In the case of Microsoft Office, since the cost of licenses weighed heavily on the decision, a number of points were considered, says Ferreira.
Training. “OpenOffice.org is not exactly the same as Microsoft Office, making it more likely that we would have to give training to users. This was a cost we had to account for.”
Automation. “We have a lot of automated work, especially with Microsoft Excel documents with macros and VBA scripts. None of this works in OpenOffice.org, which means that we would lose things that have already been done. Furthermore, there is no equivalency between what is done in Microsoft Access and the OpenOffice.org database, meaning that there would be an additional loss.”
Integration. “Contrary to what happens with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org has little integration, and does not offer the same level of combined features to which we are accustomed to, and which are important to us. Microsoft Office’s OLE (a technology that allows an application to create compound documents with information from a number of different origins) is much more effective than OpenOffice.org, whose functionality is much less appealing.”
Features. “There are fewer features in OpenOffice.org compared to Microsoft Office. It doesn’t have programs functionally equivalent to Visio, it doesn’t have Project, it doesn’t have Outlook and it doesn’t have OneNote. This is a significant loss for the end-user, who loses efficiency in his or her day-to-day routine. For us, this loss represents a significant cost, since it means that we must have more employees to do the same tasks.”
Compatibility. “The compatibility of OpenOffice.org documents is imperfect compared to the formats used by Microsoft Office, and some formatting is lost.”
Details. “There are some details in Microsoft Office which, although seemingly unimportant, end up making the difference. For example, the Microsoft Excel function library is much better than what we find in OpenOffice.org, which has comparatively few statistical functions. Of course, you can always search for more things on the Internet to increase OpenOffice.org’s functionality, but on the whole this involves a loss in efficiency.”
Support. “The issue of support is very important to us. If we have a problem with Microsoft Office, we have companies that can help. With OpenOffice.org, we have to go to forums to discuss programming, when what we want is to solve problems, and quickly. As far as support, there are expectations with regard to Microsoft, which are much fewer with OpenOffice.org.”
Ferreira explains that these were the main criteria in making the decision: “The cost of the Microsoft solution was justified by the disadvantages and losses in productivity, features and computing power that we would have had if we had chosen the free solution. The cost was clearly not prohibitive in view of the Microsoft solution’s efficiency and effectiveness.”
Now that the deployment of Microsoft Office 2010 has begun at Nanium, Ferreira admits: “We had a few difficulties at the start, since most users are power users, highly accustomed to the old Microsoft Office 2003 interface, although the benefits of the new Microsoft Outlook alone ultimately made up for this. Microsoft Outlook 2010 is a significant improvement over the 2003 version.”
Ferreira says that in the first two or three days, there was an initial shock, but after this, users ended up discovering new things and quickly adapted. He adds: “However, the shock wasn't as big as when they used OpenOffice.org. The interface is similar [to that of Office 2003], but the menu structure and names were not the same. This is unlike Microsoft Office 2010, where the initial ‘shock’ was followed by adaptation and the discovery of new features. What we saw with OpenOffice.org was that users never became accustomed over the entire duration of the pilot.”
Regarding the decision to begin deploying Microsoft Office 2010 during the product’s beta phase, Ferreira explains that there were practically no changes between the final beta used and the product’s RTM version. Moreover, the use of Microsoft Office 2010 as an early adopter allowed the deployment of a beta testing phase with 25 users over several months, which ultimately facilitated the software's wide-scale deployment in 2010.
The decision to use Microsoft Office made another decision easy: That of updating Windows 2000 to Windows 7. Although very fond of Windows 2000 – “It is an extremely stable operating system” – Ferreira emphasizes that, even in computers with only 1 GB of RAM, Windows 7 is much faster, which can be immediately seen in the computer's shorter start-up time.
Ferreira has a pragmatic approach to IT at his company: “IT must contribute to the company’s profitability through increased efficiency. We always want to be at the forefront of preventive maintenance, and spend very little on reactive maintenance. The idea is not to spend the money on IT, but rather to invest in it. If we're going to spend money, we must ensure a return in productivity, which supports the company's efficiency and competitiveness.”Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010 gives your people powerful, timesaving tools to do their best work from more places. With new capabilities and insightful updates to Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Outlook, Office 2010 offers the complete package— with familiar, intuitive tools. Now you can express ideas, solve problems, connect with people, and create amazing results—in the office, at home, or on the go. For more information about Microsoft Office, go to: www.office.comFor More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
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www.nanium.comDocument published 4/4/11