A Christchurch software developer is taking the Niue government down a Microsoft path after the island nation experienced ongoing service and support issues with open source systems.
Software developer SAFI Technologies is to develop a new government website, or portal, together with an intranet for the Niue government. The website will likely move to SQL server from Linux as part of that process. In addition a new government intranet will also be built — again using Microsoft solutions. The project is funded by the United Nations Development Programme.
SAFI Technologies’ managing director, Tim Johnson, says his company first became involved with Niue about three years ago, offering hosting for the government website. That relationship has grown and expanded over the years.
He says various agencies have come in to the island offering open source systems, implemented them and then left, leaving no one there to operate, fix or update the systems.
“They were struggling even to find offshore support,” he says.“A lot of agencies, including the UN, enjoy pushing open source, but in the Pacific Microsoft is more supported and has an easier set of skills to transfer.”
SAFI is a Microsoft solutions partner. It will redesign the government’s website to to make it more professional and also to reflect the fact Niue is a Pacific island nation. The redevelopment may include blogs for individual villages on the island, Johnson says.
A government intranet will also be developed. Tools to provide better asset tracking for government agencies are part of the plan. The project will be overseen by a steering committee including Niue government and UN representatives.
Alongside the technical development there will be ongoing efforts to increase computer literacy and technical capacity on Niue, something SAFI says it has been engaged in for some time as part of its growing relationship with the island.
Government IT staff have already been trained in the use of Microsoft web and software development tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio, which were donated by Microsoft New Zealand.
Niue Government IT Manager Paul Collin says the government deliberately chose Microsoft software and tools over open source alternatives.
“As a developing nation in a remote location, it is acutely important to have access to reliable and quality support resources, which Microsoft is able to provide online,” he says.
“Previously we have had a variety of poorly documented software that was difficult to maintain or support. This has proven to very costly in the long run. By obtaining Microsoft-based software from a reliable and external source, and training our people in it, we can be assured of receiving maintenance and support in future."
Clarification: This story originally went to press under the headline "Christchurch firm cleanses Niue govt of open source" and stated the intranet was a redevelopment when in fact it is a new development. While open source systems are being replaced on the island's website/portal, this is not the case with the intranet. Open source systems are still in use elsewhere within the Niue government.