TelstraClear: no Linux plans

TelstraClear won't be following Telstra down the open source path any time soon. Telstra has launched a project designed to move 85% of the Australian telco's desktops over to Linux and a Citrix-based thin-client terminal architecture in an effort to slash IT spending over the next three years.

TelstraClear won’t be following Telstra down the open source path any time soon.

Telstra has launched a project designed to move 85% of the Australian telco’s desktops over to Linux and a Citrix-based thin-client terminal architecture in an effort to slash IT spending over the next three years.

The plan comes despite a reported rescue mission by Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer (pictured) last year, who flew to Sydney apparently to try to hold on to the company’s biggest southern hemisphere customer.

TelstraClear, however, has no plans to follow its parent company. Corporate communications manager Ralph Little says the New Zealand company’s operating system meets its business requirements, “although we are continually looking at how we can upgrade it to ensure it continues to meet our business needs”.

Telstra is trialling Sun’s StarOffice on Linux along with the Gnome graphical user interface and Mozilla browser.

CIO Jeff Smith hopes to halve the telco’s applications, development and maintenance budget and to reduce its overall IT budget from $A1.5 billion to $A1.3 billion.

“The plan is to consolidate and reuse around OS [open source] platforms. You have to become a full OS shop to survive. The great thing is that we have the capital assets and the intellectual property network already in place. What we have to do now is leverage that,” says Smith.

Smith says data warehousing and customer care will also be migrated off current systems on to open source, with a projected reduction in total cost of ownership of around 65%.

Outsourcing specialist EDS will provide support to Telstra in the redesign of its billing system, which had grown to unmanageable proportions, according to Telstra director of productivity Hayden Kelly. In New Zealand, EDS is a key supplier of TelstraClear rival Telecom.

“We have taken a siloed approach to billing — we have made billing too complex and too diverse — and there is significant opportunity to make savings. There are 87,000 billing options, producing 103 million ‘pieces of paper’ per year. There will be a review of the vendor relationship for billing processes,” says Kelly.

In July last year Telstra declared Sun Microsystems would be its “lead provider of technology solutions and services”. CEO Ziggy Switkowski said at the time “we expect this to be a tremendous boost to technology innovation in Australia”.

An IDC Sydney analyst is sceptical of Telstra’s latest plan, saying the company has restructured IT several times in the past under Switkowski, without succeeding in lifting the company’s stock value.

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