German ministry hellbent on taking back control of

"Weaknesses" include data collection, blocking and uncontrollable costs

  A report commissioned by the German government identifies strategic risks when using Microsoft software

A report commissioned by the German government identifies strategic risks when using Microsoft software

The Federal Ministry of Interior (Bundesministerium des Innern or BMI) in Germany says it will reduce dependence on specific IT providers, especially Microsoft, to strengthen its "digital sovereignty."

In an official statement, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer states that “to guarantee our digital sovereignty, we want to reduce the dependencies of individual IT providers. We are also considering alternative programs to replace certain software. This will be done in close coordination with other EU countries. ”

The IMC commissioned a strategic market analysis to PwC consultants, which resulted in a document that was published last month. The document examines the risks inherent in the IT dependence of commercial software providers, with a particular focus on Microsoft due to the intensive use of their products and the way they are interconnected, especially Microsoft Office, Windows, Windows Server and Office 365

Oracle and SAP also receive a mention, with a recommendation for a future review, although PwC analysts seem to be less concerned about them because they occupy individual product segments (database and ERP) instead of being dominant.

The current trend towards the integrated cloud offers such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and applications based on artificial intelligence in Azure provide the customer with an improved value but also increase the blockage because the added value comes from using them together, according to the analysis.

Microsoft telemetry between Schmerzpunkten touched by report

The analyst identifies several pain points ("Schmerzpunkten"). The first is data security. Telemetry transfers data to Microsoft, the user has limited vision and control over this, and may contain personal data and, therefore, the risk of violating the GDPR, the report suggests.

In addition, dependence on cloud services increases the risk of interruptions or remote control. The deactivation of software licenses, PwC said.

The subscription price, the report adds, means that the potential for uncontrollable costs is a "moderate point." Microsoft can raise prices or change licensing rules, he suggested.

There is also an intriguing claim that the use of cloud services can reduce internal IT competition, because the need to support local software is reduced and therefore threatens the ability of the federal administration to innovate .

One could also argue that less time spent repairing damaged local IT means more time to focus on innovation; But it is true that cloud computing is a kind of outsourcing and there are inconveniences.

What to do? The report suggested several approaches to mitigate the problems it identified.

Negotiation, diversity and open source

One is to negotiate with software vendors. The document refers to how the Dutch Ministry of Justice negotiated with Microsoft on the collection of telemetry data.

Another is to use a more diverse range of proprietary software, such as Google G Suite instead of Microsoft Office, or Apple devices instead of Windows PCs.

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A third approach is to build and use more open source software. The report refers to several examples, including Munich's failed attempt to replace Windows and Office with Linux and OpenOffice, later reverted, and the most successful efforts of the French police force to use Linux, LibreOffice and other open source applications, [19659005] The report However, it seems like a cautionary note, referring to how large IT providers often acquire open source products and that this can be harmful. Oracle is referred to by the way it has handled MySQL and Java.

The advantage is that recent movements, such as the appearance of the Linux kernel in Windows 10 (through the Windows Subsystem for Linux) can facilitate the adoption of Linux applications.

It is easy to identify advantages when changing expensive proprietary software, but it is often difficult to achieve. Be realistic, guarantee user acceptance, perform the necessary training, proceed step by step, suggests PwC.

Is there anything new here? Some of the arguments, such as the risk of downtime in the cloud, seem familiar for years; and yet it has not prevented the adoption of the cloud. The relative merits and risks of proprietary software versus open source software are also a very used territory. However, what is more recent is the trend towards massive data collection, as well as international tensions (such as between the US and Huawei) that show how a dependence on technology controlled by other nations can bite you again. . [19659005] The Registry has requested comments from Microsoft. ®

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