FOSS stands for Free and Open Source Software. I am not much in favor of “free” as much as in favour of open source. Open Source standards can be replicated across any system that can connect to the Internet. It is essential for business continuity. Why not free then? There’s no free lunch. Besides sponsorship, there are real humans behind the code and there must be someway to compensate the efforts.
Licensing norms can be onerous and lawyers can spoil any party (no offence meant, please!) Rent seeking and extractive proprietary software thrives on marketing and creating FUD. You’d see the white papers and consultancies advising against open source.
Here’s a better perspective:
The main issue here is not so much the direct cost to the city itself (which is substantial, but not critical compared to other costs – especially since any migration will incur a significant short-term cost), but more that the cost must be paid over and over again by all users separately. Barcelona continues to pay millions to Microsoft every year, but so will other cities in Spain and across Europe, and then so will all users of those services that may have to use a copy of Microsoft Office for compatibility reasons (i.e. students and small businesses).
The costs can be substantial.
The author urges us to look at the bigger picture:
It would also allow development of these projects to be done from anywhere, allowing users to fund local developers or co-operatives. This would help to break up the massive, monopolistic Big Tech companies, and could also be used as a way of bringing investment and jobs to parts of the country/region that require it.
In these pandemic times, if it helps to save money, the hospitals should strongly look at these solutions.