Uptake of open source by Governments worldwide is soaring.

Uptake of open source by Governments worldwide is soaring.

Open source is frequently cited as one of the most important movements in modern software creation. The last two years have seen gradual but certain migration by Governments across Europe, North America and Asia, beginning with the trusted Dutch in December 2007.

Most recently, the Hungarian and Croatian governments have announced that they will allow open source to be adopted in public section organizations. In January, Vietnam ordered all governmental bodies to migrate to using 100 per cent Open Source software products by end of 2010 – previously, companies such as Microsoft and Novell had ruled the roost.


The British government announced in February that they would also consider open-source software on an equal footing with proprietary commercial software when awarding multi-million-pound IT contracts. The UK government spends over £20 billion per year on Information Technology.

Simon Phipps, the Chief Open-Source Officer of Sun Microsystems told The Times that although the government has been committed to studying open-source software since 2004, this was seen by those in the industry as “a gesture of goodwill. Government procurement policies were predicated on the idea of purchased software.”

“The problem is that with proprietary software, when a contract ends you are left with nothing, as a UK taxpayer I am delighted that my government is going to spend money on value rather than software licences.”

In the US, Bill Vass (President and COO of Sun Microsystems Federal) made abundantly clear that the U.S. Federal Government were finally taking steps towards open source adoption and 2009 was the year to make ‘open source ready for primetime’.

“More and more we are seeing the federal government move towards open source due to its increased security, reduced procurement times, large scalability…reduced cost to the taxpayers, and escape from vendor lock-in.

Open source will just continue to grow as the world moves to open storage (low-cost hardware with open-source storage management software that makes it perform as well as high-cost proprietary storage devices), open network (low-cost hardware with open-source VoIP, routing, and switching software that make it perform as well as high-cost proprietary network devices) and open-source virtualization (xVM and Xen cloud computing without the cost of proprietary virtualization and management software).”

To be clear, this does not mean, however, that governments will be acquiring software for free. Each item of open-source software will still require tailoring for purpose, servicing, updating and improvement by an army of programmers. Nevertheless, open source brings an extremely compelling value proposition, and the time is long gone where doubts lie over product quality. Unquestionably, this is a step in the right direction  – particularly during these tough economic times.

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