The wave of migration from propriety software to open-source applications is gaining momentum as big companies are jumping on the bandwagon to make cost efficiencies and avoid legal charges for piracy.
The enthusiasm for "going open-source" was summed up at the 2009 Global Conference on Open Source held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta on Monday which was attended by hundreds of open-source users from across the globe.
Indonesia's largest telecommunication company PT Telkom has studied the use of open-source software applications since 2005.
"We began with only two computers as the pilot projects in 2005, and it worked very well," Telkom director for information and technology Indra Utoyo said in his presentation.
By the end of the year, he said, about five percent of the computers used by the company had migrated to open-source. "Our final target is 80 percent by the end of 2010."
Indra said officials from Indonesia's biggest oil company PT Pertamina and Bank Mandiri, the biggest bank by assets, had expressed their interest in migration and asked him for advice.
"We have been saving a lot of money. As many as 16,000 out of our 22,000 computers have migrated to open-source.
"Open-source costs only about US$30 per user while Microsoft may cost up to $400. You do the math," Indra said when asked how much money had been saved.
Indra's experience was shared by the minister of communication and information, who was just sworn-in last week, Tifatul Sembiring.
Tifatul said in his speech that the government would continue to promote open source as well as locally produced software.
"The government has adopted free and open-source software not only because it is cheaper, but also because of the freedom and rights by we can freely modify and redistribute applications in line with our needs," Tifatul said.
Tifatul said the use of open-source software would be a smart way to tackle piracy which was still prevalent despite the 2002 copyright law which carried a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rp 500 million ($52,715).
Research from the International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that Indonesia's software piracy rate increased by 1 percent to 85 percent from 2006 to 2008, causing an estimated $544 million worth of losses to the state.
The next wave of migration to open source is not going to happen exclusively in office spaces, but also on the Internet via web applications.
A noted IT expert Onno W. Purbo said most web applications do not require high-profile hardware and are more cost efficient compared to traditional open source applications.
"It suits small and medium enterprises. By using an old PC with only an operating system and web browser installed, you have access to hundreds of applications for free, as long as you have a good internet connection, of course," Onno told the The Jakarta Post.