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Open source infiltrates government IT worldwide

Jim Romeo | Jan. 4, 2008
Linux and Open Source solutions are growing. The growth is not just within commercial enterprises.

Mark Taylor: Cost reduction. Increasingly, in Europe we are seeing the 'Open Standards' driver - the prime example of this being the increasing number of European Governments mandating the Open Document Format, which is an ISO approved international standard, as opposed to Microsoft's file format, which isn't.

[Also] encouragement by the European Commission. For example, Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for information and society, makes public statements to the effect that an Open Source industry in Europe is a desired outcome for the Commission.

LinuxWorld: With reference to open source conversions, are there successful projects where governments are repurposing old hardware?

John Weathersby: Government entities, primarily state and more specifically municipal [and] local government entities are more prone to re-purpose old hardware as their budgets are not as robust as federal budgets (within limits, of course). One of the greatest strengths of open source software is that it is generally more flexible in that is does not require the latest, greatest, newest and most expensive hardware to run effectively. In addition, open source solutions tend to be developed and deployed with open standards in mind. This is an important element in enabling software to be and remain compatible on a variety of hardware(s) and platforms.

LinuxWorld: In 2003, a research report cited CIO Weekly as saying that "within 5 years 54% of CIOs said that open source will be their primary platform." Are we there? Why or why not?

John Weathersby: 2003 was a long time ago...what's that like nearly 25 years in "dog years" and nearly 50 years in "computer-years" considering the speed of technology development and adoption. (See Moore's Law!) I do believe that this specific prediction was at least moving in the right direction. I know that open source has grown and matured a great deal in the past several years - even more so than even some of us "advocates" thought possible and much more so, to the chagrin of those who wished that Open Source had never been devised!

Adoption rates continue to grow at a fantastic rate and I think this can be accredited to several things:

1. The technology works and works well!

2. There are many very good companies out there who have recognized and adopted open source solutions not only for their internal solutions, but are offering all types and levels of service and support for nearly everything you can imagine as open source.

3. As the market matures, more and more of the "more pragmatic" CIOs are becoming comfortable with the idea of "open source" so they are putting their toes in the water and openly adopting the technology. You have to admit when you have nearly all the world's leading technology companies offering an Open Source solution of one kind or another; it is hard to argue that the technology is not ready for prime time! It is here and becoming more ingrained in every type of solution on a daily basis.


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