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Red Hat is a leader of an appeal by 18 technology companies of a Swiss government agency’s award of a no-bid contract to Microsoft. The challenge raises important issues of openness in government and of a level playing field for open source and other competitors of Microsoft. Red Hat is seeking a public bidding process that allows for consideration of the technical and commercial advantages of open source software products.
The three-year contract, worth 14 million Swiss Francs per year, was awarded by the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics (BBL) to Microsoft for standardized workstations, including applications, maintenance, and support. There was no public bidding process. The Swiss agency justified this no-bid procedure on the ground that there was no sufficient alternative to the Microsoft products.
Au contraire. Whatever one’s opinion as to Microsoft’s products, it is hard to ignore the existence of numerous competitive alternatives to them. Indeed, Kanton Solothurn, the City of Zurich, the Federal Agency for Computer Sciences and and Telecommunictions (BIT), the Federal Institute for Intellectual Property (IGE), and other Swiss agencies are already using some of those alternatives provided by Red Hat.
In a brief filed yesterday with Swiss Federal Administration Court, Red Hat and other concerned companies requested that the court reverse the agency decisions and hold a public bidding process. This public process will allow for fair consideration of the merits of open source and other non-Microsoft software products.
Joining Red Hat in the appeal are the following companies: adfinis GmbH, Binatec AG, c.a.p.e. IT GmbH, Collax GmbH, Corvent GmbH, iNodes AG, Liip AG, LxPN Distributions AG, Open-Xchange GmbH, stepping stone GmbH, stoni.ch consulting & help, SyGroup GmbH, univention GmbH, Zarafa Deutschland GmbH, Ziil Informatiklösungen GmbH, 4teamwork, and 4Synergy GmbH.