Feeds

EU report calls for widespread open source adoption

The only way for governments to share software and save money, it says

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A European Commission funded report into the pooling of software across the EU's administrations has recommended that governments share and adapt software via the Open Source model. The study, conducted by (arf arf) sometime Microsoft buddies Unisys, calls for a development program lasting six years, starting with a clearing house to which governments could 'donate' software for reuse, with a total investment of E6 million over the period.

The report, Pooling Open Source Software, was commissioned via the IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations), the body set up with the brief of investigating the Interchange of... Well, it's pretty obvious, isn't it? It would however be absolutely incorrect to say (as we're sure the more rabid insurrectionists in Brussels and environs will) that proprietary and/or Microsoft software lost out in a head-to-head evaluation, because the IDA effectivey handed Unisys a loaded pistol, with instructions to go pull the trigger.

That, of course, is worse news for Microsoft than just some pesky report recommending wholesale deployment of open source software, because it means the people who're driving have already decided. The study deals largely with software developed by government departments for their own administrative services, and starts from the premise that if such software is to be transferred to and adapted for other adminstrative departments in other countries, then the open source model "comes naturally."

Which does have a compelling logic to it, although you can see why Microsoft's government sales people might start complaining that the IDA's playing with a stacked deck here. But it's specifically not a case of loose evangelists (not writing the study, anyway): "The study purpose is... not of the advantages or disadvantages of open source and proprietary software... It is not to take position in the commercial or sometimes ideological conflict between the advocates of free software distribution and the advocates of reinforcing intellectual and industrial property on software.

"It is just to examine the pre-requisites and conditions (functional, legal, technical) of a pan-European pooling service."

Which it then proceeds to do. Clearly, not a lot, possibly very close to none, of software used by governments in the EU today is open source. Much of it however is bespoke, and more receptive to being at least moved towards open source, with the caveat that software that doesn't start development under an open source licence regime is generally difficult to convert to one, because multiple IP ownerships have to be tracked down first. Conversion and adaptation alone would therefore be likely to run into the sand, so to really get to interchangeable open source software, European administrations will also have to move to making new projects open source, and resist implementing new projects based on proprietary software.

Depending on how hot to trot Brussels is, governments could come under severe pressure to conform to this, which might be awkward for the UK's own dear E-Envoy, who is currently clutching a number of Microsoft-based e-government projects. If open source became the lingua franca of Europe (and by George, we need one), then individual governments would be faced with the choice of joining in or becoming more and more isolated. Open source as IT's Euro? Could be.

The study does not recommend any specific software platform or open source licence variant. But it does seem to take the view that pooled software should be exchanged between administrations, rather than being available to all and sundry, which suggests that the GPL won't be the way European goverment goes. It also considers the BSD licence and MPL, whereby "the code and the executable binary may be disassociated." This would allow the executable to be distributed with a proprietary licence, and hence would allow it to be restricted.

According to the IDA, the report was welcomed by a specialist hearing in Brussels last month. EU Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen commented: "Good practice is built on proven solutions that work. Software and concrete applications that work in practice are an important element of these. They could be usefully used as source of inspiration for Member States to develop good and interactive public services in the future to the benefit of Europe's citizens." No, we've no idea what that's supposed to mean either, but the hapless Commission press release writers claim Erkki was "Commenting on the potential benefits of greater re-use of public sector software," OK? ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?
Google's app permissions far too lax – security firm survey
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
OpenWRT gets native IPv6 slurping in major refresh
Also faster init and a new packages system
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.