UK.gov: We really are going to start buying open-source from SMEs
Groundhog Day again already?
Intellect 2012 Open source and open standards are the direction for UK government IT, the civil servant leading the government's technology change agenda has said.
Liam Maxwell, Cabinet Office director of ICT futures, said Tuesday in London that open source has grown up and it's time to dispel lingering misconceptions about this technology and development process.
Maxwell told the Intellect 2012 conference: “Opensource software is not three guys in a shed anymore. There are a lot of misconceptions about open source but open source is the future model for delivering IT.”
He was speaking the day before the Cabinet Office opens a three-month period of consultation on open standards to be used in the government's G-Cloud initiative.
G-Cloud is intended to establish a series of frameworks on software, hardware and services and on purchasing to help deliver IT more effectively and reduce costs across government.
The three-month consultation process due Friday is intended to take input on open standards that would underpin G-Cloud. Maxwell promised the consultation is an important part of G-Cloud saying it has the “same authority” as the consultation on a new airport. “We are serious about this,” Maxwell said.
The consultation comes as the government prepares to announce which IT vendors will be G-Cloud certified. More than 600 companies are reported to have expressed an interest in the framework.
Underscoring the government’s interest in open source Maxwell said that last week he'd accompanied Cabinet Office minister Frances Maude, overseeing the government's digital transition, on a tour of Silicon Valley tech companies working with open source and big data – Cloudera, specializing in the Google-inspired Hadoop data munching framework, and MongoDB specialist 10Gen. Maxwell also introduced his ministerial boss to cloud software infrastructure specialist Joyent and eBay's payment arm PayPal.
“We have a minister who really gets this," Maxwell said. "That's where the future is moving. It's moving to a new model of service and delivery, it's big data and big data is going to be open source. We are going to spend a lot of time looking into that. If we move to being one common government we need open source,” he said.
The idea is to move away from what Maxwell called “black-box” contracts involving big IT vendors to more agile systems delivered by small and medium sized enterprises. The thinking seems to be SME equals open source and open standards, while big means the same old proprietary vendors.
“For years we spent on IT systems built for bureaucrats, they were not built for people,” he said.
It's a message that's been coming out of government for a long while. Perhaps this time it will actually happen. ®
I just hope they MIGHT actually get it through their heads some day that open source is much better value and better for out economy than M$...
It doesn't take a genius to realize that its better to pay nothing for the software but pay for for support to a UK company than spend the same money paying a US company and still need support.
Its like it shouldn't take a genius to realize our government buying British for 20% (maybe even 30%) more cost than abroad is still a net gain for the economy as that 20% extra still goes on UK wages, which is spent on goods with up to 20% VAT and is taxed at up to 50%...
You can't spend your way out of a deficit, but what you do spend should go internally if we make it here...
I.E. Whomever chose to buy trains made outside the UK needs to be fired, out of a cannon, into the sun...
British Saddleback fuelled and ready to fly
Gloucester old spot providing fighter cover.
Open Source *requires* copyright to function. Copyright is what gives the original author of the code the right to state what license it is distributed under.
What are you really selling when you sell software? An ephemeral pattern of bits on disk, which is cheap? Or the expertise and work you put into writing it? The sale of software as a commercial product is one way to solve the problem that the cost of the labour to produce it is often more expensive than a single customer is willing to bear ; Open Source is another approach which addresses this issue.
It does, indeed, seem to be perceived as old-fashioned to believe that you can rest on your laurels and live off the fruits of your past labour ; this is a common argument against copyright extension for the music industry. I don't think anyone would begrudge me the literal fruits of my labour if I built a really good automated tomato production system, but conversely, I don't believe I would be upset if someone copied my design, improved it, and built their own system. Reproducing copies of software requires very little in the way of materials and labour though. I suspect the real issue is the retail model of software development - it just doesn't seem to be sustainable in an era where people are willing to legally share their software openly.
To address the problem that some software is just too expensive for a single buyer to pay for development, perhaps the solution is to use the distributed patronage systems like Kickstarter - which just managed to raise over $800,000 in 24 hours for a well-respected game studio to develop a point and click adventure game.