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CERN is switching away from Microsoft due to high licensing fees

What you need to know

  • CERN is switching away from Microsoft software.
  • The change is in response to CERN losing its status as an academic institution.
  • CERN has a Microsoft Alternative project which includes open software.

CERN, also known as the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is switching away from Microsoft software in response to high licensing fees (via PCMag). CERN lost its status as an academic institution in the eyes of Microsoft and as a result would have to pay licensing fees that were 10 times higher than its previous contract with Microsoft.

In anticipation of the switch, CERN created the Microsoft Alternative (MALt) project. This project focuses on "delivering the same service to every category of CERN personnel" as outlined on CERN's website. The project relies on open software that allows CERN to continue their work without relying on Microsoft.

CERN has been using Microsoft services for decades, so this shows a large shift in its workflow. The first services that MALt will pilot are an email service and an alternative solution to Skype. Comprehensive replacements like this will take years to thoroughly test and implement.

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13 Comments
  • Ouch, why has Microsoft changed it's stance on CERN? It's a major contract loss and I imagine heads will roll for this loss of a major client. I just hope this wasn't a decision that stemmed from trying suck as much money out of a major contract in a bid to drive up profit margins.
  • Only if the revocation is unwarranted. What makes CERN an academic institution? Being involved in research doesn't make you academic else many corporations would qualify on that mark.
  • Lol, we've seen this story before. Company switches to open source software because of too high license fee. Then realize it's actually more expensive because you need to retrain everyone to use said software, setting up the infrastructure, train every single person you hire to use all that new software or pay a lot more for those that already can, costs more to repair when **** breaks and end up spending more money than paying the license fees and the services Microsoft includes then end up returning to Microsoft. I give it 3 or 4 years.
  • Except that this is CERN not a municipality. And probably they've also learned from the errors of the others. They are doing a phase-wise migration not a big bang, for example.
  • Considering CERN is a research institution, the average user is probably much more tech oriented than the average user of a municipality. It is a complex project but it is doable and may serve as an example to other companies considering migration.
  • This reminds me a little bit of the decision the city of Munich made. https://www.zdnet.com/article/munich-sheds-light-on-the-cost-of-dropping...
  • Will probably end up costing CERN more in researching and developing MS alternatives and then migrating resources and training all employees than it would have to keep using Microsoft products. Sounds like a knee jerk reaction.
  • Given that they started looking into migration more than a year ago (MAlt) it sounds like anything but a knee jerk reaction.
  • I feel like they were trying to operate the same way but there's almost certainly a lower tier pricing option that bundles in what they really need and eliminating redundancy but they just don't get how...although being that they're all very smart ppl I'm sure this will all work out for all involved somehow. =p
  • Nadella's decision to diversify is looking pretty good right now. I think he's admitted that Open Source is a real, and maybe the best, option for some. He can't just wish it would go away. And it's a proven waste of time trying to crush it, i.e. previous MS administrations. His push into making Microsoft services available on all platforms, his growth of the Azure cloud, ML, AI, and Office subscription licensing (for those who want the best productivity experience as opposed to the most affordable... ya get what you pay for btw) took a lot of courage and foresight. Just wish he could have somehow pulled off a Surface phone too! Then I think he'd be a legitimate candidate for the Nobel.
  • CERN has the word "research" in its name. A little strange to not consider this an academic institution. Then again I don't know Microsoft's license tiers for institutions, and CERN is probably rolling in cash. And they have an entire program dedicated to migrating from Microsoft? A little weird.
  • Research doesn't mean you are an academic institution...
    Pretty sure if they switched them and didn't align on an other price it's either that CERN is not worth it at tajt price point or they are just not a big enough contract to worry about losing it long term... It's not like Microsoft hasn't been 8n that business for a while and pretty successful at it too...
  • Reminds me of the movie 300.
    This is madness, madness