Archive for the ‘public administration’ tag
Some 95 percent of Malaysia’s government agencies have adopted open source software (OSS), but the remaining 5 percent have not warmed to the concept–and is unlikely to anytime soon, according to a government official.
During her presentation at the GovTech 2010 conference here Thursday, Tan King Ing, deputy director of ICT policy and planning at the Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (Mampu), said some 400 government agencies in the country have adopted OSS. The Mampu was set up in 2002 as part of the government’s ICT masterplan, to explore the use of open source software (OSS) in the public sector.
While open source adoption efforts began in earnest in 2004 with 50 agencies, implementation figures began ramping up sharply in 2008 when the Mampu introduced migration and documentation support to move government workers from proprietary office software to OpenOffice.org, said Tan.
In 2008, the Mampu said 281 agencies had adopted OSS. By mid-2009, this figure rose to 71.1 percent.
Elaborating on the 5 percent that have not adopted OSS, Tan said these are “very small and far flung [user groups], without much IT resources or personnel”. She noted a lack of enthusiasm on their parts regarding OSS because of the need for expertise to perform the migration.
She added that during a Mampu survey of government agencies, this 5 percent of users also indicated that they did not plans to adopt OSS in the future. And the Mampu is not expecting them to, either, Tan said.
Path to open source self-sufficiency
Describing the Malaysian government’s path to OSS, she said most government agencies infrastructures were standalone proprietary legacy systems that did not interoperate.
The start of the initiative was also marked by “so much skepticism” toward OSS, prompting Mampu to drive five pilot projects to spread user acceptance, she said.
She added that, on hindsight, governments looking to follow in Malaysia’s footsteps would better manage by adopting a broad implementation roadmap, including preparing proprietary business partners for such a significant change.
With the large majority of government bodies currently on OSS, the Mampu’s next goal is to help these agencies achieve self-sufficiency so that they would be able to support their own OSS implementations, and write their own in-house applications, said Tan.
“We want Malaysia to become a technology producer, rather than exclusively technology consumers,” she said.
The city of San Francisco has made public it’s open source policy for software purchases. In a blog post by the city’s mayor, the new policy requires that the city equally consider open source software while making software purchases.
The highlight of the post was the realization that new and innovative technologies have been created with open source technologies when the government released all its data in open and machine readable formats.
One of the most interesting new applications has been the city government’s integration with Twitter and how it is leading the city government to receive reports about broken civic amenities and fix these problems in realtime.
Source: The Indian Digital Government
Hazai költségvetési intézmények valamint a közoktatás számára szállít Red Hat megoldásokat a nyílt forráskódú rendszereket forgalmazó ULX Nyílt Forráskódú Tanácsadó és Disztribúciós Kft.
A Központi Szolgáltatási Főigazgatóság (KSzF) április 16-án hirdetett meg közbeszerzési eljárást szoftverlicencek és kapcsolódó szolgáltatások beszerzésére. A Miniszterelnöki Hivatal közleménye szerint a hazai költségvetési intézmények, valamint a köz- és felsőoktatás számára az évente beszerzett Microsoft termékek mellett a nyílt forráskódú szoftverek beszerzésére is lehetőséget ad. A nemrég meghirdetett eredmény szerint az ULX mellett a FEFO, a Freesoft, a Kventa, a Multiráció, a WSH és a Navigator szállíthat a kiírásnak megfelelő szoftvereket a közigazgatás számára.
Az ULX két részteljesítésben fog szállítani nyílt forráskódú megoldásokat: az egyik a közbeszerzésre kötelezett intézmények köre, a második az oktatási intézmények köre. Az ULX széles portfóliót fog szállítani, többek között a Red Hat nyílt forráskódú vállalati szoftverinfrastruktúrájának teljes készletét, az operációs rendszertől kezdve az adatközpont szoftvereken át egészen a JBoss köztesréteg, illetve alkalmazás-fejlesztő környezetekig. Ezenkívül a Red Hat ökorendszeréhez tartozó egyéb nyílt forráskódú megoldások közül a Zimbra nyílt forráskódú levelező- és csoportmunka megoldás, illetve a nyílt forráskódú adatbázis szerver, a Postgres vállalati változata, a Postgres Plus és annak eszközei is bekerültek a portfólióba.
Az eredménnyel kapcsolatban Szentiványi Gábor, az ULX ügyvezető igazgatója a Computerworldnek elmondta: “Úgy érezzük, hogy egy nagyon komoly gát szakadt át. A belépési szint, tehát az az erőfeszítés, amit meg kell tenni, hogy ezek az intézmények nyílt forráskódú eszközöket alkalmazzanak, nagyon lecsökkent. Ezzel bátorítást kaptak ezek az intézmények, hogy egyenrangú megoldásként választhassák e termékeket és a hozzájuk tartozó szolgáltatásokat, így IT-környezetüket – ami nagyon fontos elem válság idején – jóval olcsóbban, költséghatékonyabban tudják fejleszteni, üzemeltetni. A megnyert rendszereket kisebb és nagyobb adatközpontokban virtualizációs megoldásokra, ezenkívül speciálisabb megoldásokra fogják használni.
A központosított közbeszerzés egyébként nem egy konkrét projektre szól, hanem a költségvetési szervezetek szoftver- és szolgáltatási igényeire általában. Mi a portfóliónkat úgy állítottuk össze, hogy egy kis önkormányzat szoftverigényeit és egy központi kormányzati adatközpont igényeit egyaránt kielégítse. Ez egy általános, 4 évre szóló, évenként megújuló szoftver- és szolgáltatásszállítására szóló szerződés.”
Sikeresen zárult a nyílt forráskódú szoftverekre áprilisban meghirdetett központosított közbeszerzési tender, így az aláírt keretszerződés értelmében a jövőben a közintézmények könnyen juthatnak hozzá nyílt forrású szoftverekhez is.
A nyílt forrású szoftverek két részteljesítésben 6 milliárd forinttal részesednek összesen abból a 24 milliárdos központosított közbeszerzési (keretből, mely a hazai közszféra általános szoftverbeszerzési igényeit hivatott fedezni. A nyertesek közt található számos ismert hazai vállalat, köztük a FEFO, a Freesoft, a Kventa, a Multiráció, a Navigáció, az ULX és a WSH is. Mintegy 12 milliárd a Microsoft, míg 6 milliárd a Novell termékeire vonatkozik. Az első részteljesítés az általános célú IT-termékekre, míg a második az oktatási célú termékekre vonatkozik.
A Red Hat hazai disztribútoraként a cég nyílt forrású portfóliójával nyert természetesen az ULX, jelesül a Red Hat Enterprise Linux szerver- és desktopváltozataival, desktopvirtualizációs megoldással (KVM-alapú VDI) , a JBoss middleware és alkalmazásfejlesztő környezeteivel, de a termékek közt található az OpenOffice.org és számos derivatívája, a Zimbra kommunikációs megoldás, és a PostgreSQL adatbázis-kezelő. Az ULX igyekezett minél szélesebb portfóliót összeállítani annak érdekében, hogy a nagyobb adatközponti infrastrukturális igényektől kezdve a kisebb munkacsoportokig mindent képesek legyenek lefedni, árulta el a HWSW-nek Szentiványi Gábor, az ULX ügyvezető igazgatója.
A szabad szoftverek természetesen eddig is elérhetőek voltak bárki számára, beleértve a közintézményeket is, a mostani lépés azonban mégis jelentős lökést adhat alkalmazásuknak. “Ez egy bizalmi dolog. Ha az állam mögé áll, nem mondhatja, hogy alkalmatlan valamire, és ez az embereket bátorítja” – fogalmazott a telefonos interjú során Szentiványi, aki szerint a központosított közbeszerzési eljárás keretében lehet hatékonyan elérni a tömegeket, melyek nem egyedi, magas fokon testre szabott megoldásokat akarnak, hanem egyszerű és gyors bevezetést, valamint gondtalan üzemeltetést.
A hazai közszférában a linuxos szerverek aránya egy 2006-os adat szerint megközelíti a piaci átlagot. A magyar közintézmények bíznak a nyílt forrású megoldásokban, több helyen kritikus alkalmazások üzemelnek már linuxos környezetben, a mostani bejelentés szerint azonban már a kormányzat bizalmát és támogatását is élvezik a szabad szoftverek, ami nagy lökést adhat az ilyen megoldások terjedésének nem csak a szerverek, hanem az asztali számítógépek szegmensében is.
A Központi Szolgáltatási Főigazgatóság döntése továbbá EU-konform is, hiszen maga az Európai Unió is kimondottan támogatja a nyílt szabványokra és nyílt forrású szoftverekre épülő megoldások használatát a közintézményekben. A mostani bejelentés katalizálhatja itthon azt a folyamatot, mely megindult az elmúlt évek során Európa számos országában, amelyek keretében a közigazgatási dolgozók PC-it Microsoft Windowsról és Office-ról Linuxra és OpenOffice-ra állították át. Az Open Document Alliance magyar tagozatának számításai szerint egy ilyen váltással négy év alatt akár 100 milliárd forintot is megtakaríthatna a hazai közszféra.
Szentiványi szerint ezzel megtörni látszik az a hazai hagyomány, hogy indokolatlanul bizonyos vállalatok termékeire szabva írnak közbeszerzést. A keretszerződés ugyanakkor kizárólag olyan nyílt forráskódú termékekkel foglalkozott, melyek mögött komolyan vehető gyártói háttér és tapasztalat áll, a pusztán közösség által támogatott, “gazdátlan” projektek produktumait nem engedi be, árulta el az ULX vezetője. Mindez ugyanakkor nem jelenti azt, hogy azokat nem alkalmazhatnák a költségvetési intézmények, akár egyedi megegyezés alapján támogatást kérve rá a keretszerződést elnyerő valamelyik vállalattal.
A nyílt forráskód különösen vonzó lehet a hazai oktatás számára, véli Szentiványi, ugyanis szabad megismerhetősége, módosíthatósága révén sokkal inkább összhangban áll az oktatás céljaival, mint a többnyire zárt forrású tulajdonosi szoftverek. “A világon mindenhol így van, hogy az oktatásban a nyílt forráskód nagyon erős, már csak azért is, mert az iskoláknak szűkösek a pénzügyi erőforrásaik”.
When the White House moved its Web platform to open source on October 24th, 2009 with the goal of reducing costs and improving security, open source became mainstream. Governments globally are embracing open source policies at an increasing rate as they realize the benefits previously enjoyed by the enterprise sector. Bill Vass, president and chief operating officer of Sun Microsystems Federal, Inc., focuses on providing the U.S. government and global accounts with open, secure and efficient solutions for solving unique IT challenges. He shares with Inner Circle readers his views on why governments, like enterprises, are embracing open source solutions.
Q: Why is open source good for government?
A: There are six key reasons why governments are moving to open source. They include:
- Security. Open source is statistically shown to increase security in most implementations. This is particularly relevant for intelligence agencies that focus on security.
- Procurement time. Government procurements can take up to three years. By moving to open source, agencies can download and deploy software immediately and then go through procurement for support rather than acquisition.
- No vendor lock-in or lock-out. Because open source is in the public domain, support is available from multiple vendors. For Solaris, users can get support from HP, Dell, IBM, Sun, Intel, AMD, and a host of others.The same goes for Linux and other open source environments. Additionally, because the APIs are open sourced, they’re easier to reverse-engineer to avoid lockout.
- Reduced cost. Open source support contracts are usually significantly less expensive than proprietary contracts because there is competition. That’s not the case when the code isn’t publicly available. We often say that open source gives 90% of the functionality at 10% of the cost. This results in billions of dollars of savings for governments.
- Increased quality. There are fewer patch releases with open source, in part because open source code goes through more reviews. During the release process, the code is reviewed by the community, which can be ruthless in its scrutiny. The code then goes through integration review, indemnification review if supported by a vendor, and quality control. That adds up to three times more quality controls than most proprietary products.
- Collaborative environment. By engaging with open source, governments can inject unique requirements into the community without having to go through a vendor. This is a huge boon for governments because in the past, vendors often couldn’t justify doing unique requirements for a limited number of government seats.
Q: To what extent are governments around the world adopting open source solutions?
A: About 87% of governments and businesses globally have adopted open source solutions for large-scale mission critical applications. As a whole, governments were rather slow to adopt the Internet and they’ve been the same way with open source. But over the last five to six years, that has changed. They now acknowledge that this is useful in mission-critical environments.
In terms of who is in the forefront, Brazil is clearly a leader. China, India and the U.K. also have strong open source policies. The Netherlands, Germany and Russia are also moving heavily toward open source. The United States has lagged somewhat, much as we did with adoption of wireless and mobile communications, but it’s becoming much more prevalent in the U.S. government under the Obama administration.
Every large company and government should have an open source policy that acknowledges its existence and determines how to manage it. There are good and bad things about open source. If you don’t manage it well, a slew of problems can result.
Q: How has Sun worked with the Obama administration to evangelize open source?
A: We’ve worked closely at both the administrative and congressional levels to get policies in place to allow organizations to adopt and manage open source. If you mismanage open source, you’ll have a mess, and if you manage it well, you can get tremendous value. We’ve seen great adoption with the national information health care system. We’ve also seen additions to the defense appropriations and health care bills where they specify the use of open source for security and privacy reasons along with cost reduction.
Entities should evaluate open source alternatives just as they evaluate alternatives for any type of acquisition. It should not be mandatory however. It needs to be evaluated on an equal basis for its own features and capabilities. If you want open competition, you don’t want open source to be excluded, but you don’t want proprietary offerings to be excluded either. You want competition based on merit. Evaluate your open source versus proprietary products based on security advantages, cost advantages and deployment advantages along with the risks. If you’re using an open source product that doesn’t have strong community or vendor support behind it, you’re running risk. The same is true for a small, proprietary company that could go out of business. At least open source goes into the public domain, so other companies can pick it up.
Q: How does open source technology address security?
A: Security is a strong area for open source. One issue we have today is that all software products are written globally — India, China, Russia — all over. This allows people to inject things into the code. If it’s proprietary, you can’t see it. If it’s open sourced, you can. By making it open source, it’s harder for people with malicious intent to inject things into the product. Many proprietary vendors will say they have their security experts review the code. But we’re talking millions and millions of lines of code — 15 to 30 million in Windows alone. There’s no way a small panel of experts can review that much code. But by exposing it to the 900,000 people in the open source community, you have many eyes scrutinizing it along with those security experts, which tends to surface security issues before they’re exploited. Openness forces better security. Additionally, because open source vendors know that the algorithms they use to secure their code are going to be public, they make them very robust.
Q: How does open source address cost savings?
A: Firstly, via speed of procurement. With open source, you can go to a certified source, pull down the source code, and immediately start deploying before you get support or licensing in place. That speed saves money. Then, you save money when you negotiate the support cost because the code is open and there is competition on the support. You don’t have that with proprietary products because there is only one vendor with access to the code. You’ll often see savings of as much as 90% over a proprietary product. Just make sure that what you buy offers things like indemnification. Depending on what you pay, you can often get 24/7 global support as well.
Q: What should a government or enterprise look for when evaluating open source?
A: Look for a solution with an active community. Some open source products are science projects. Look for a vendor or multiple commercial vendors who stand behind their product so that you have one throat to choke if something goes wrong. Look for vendors who provide indemnification so that you know from an intellectual property perspective that you won’t be at risk. Also, understand the licensing. All open source products have to be under an Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license. Check out the OSI website where there are about 40 different licenses. Make sure you understand the three different families of licenses and how they affect how you resell or redistribute what you build in open source. Another area to check is drivers. Many times, proprietary vendors will pay hardware manufacturers to initiate drivers as the product comes out, whereas the open source community generally lags on drivers. Understand what is available with regard to your time frames.
Q: When evaluating open source products, you’ll often see two versions. Why is that?
A: Generally, what you’ll see is a community version and an enterprise version. Sun has Solaris and OpenSolaris. There’s a community MySQL and an enterprise MySQL. The community versions are wild and always changing because the community is always contributing to them. You can certainly run your environments on those community versions, but there is risk because they are in constant flux. IT organizations don’t like flux for obvious reasons. As a commercial vendor, we create an indemnified, supportable open version that we sell an enterprise license for. Depending upon what you’re doing, it’s a good idea to understand both. In some cases, you’ll want to be engaged in the community in order to inject your features and requirements into the product. But when you’re ready to deploy on a large scale, you’ll probably want an enterprise version.
Almost inevitably the last few days of the year feature an impressive number of lists – on newspapers, magazines, web sites, radio and TV programs – about the best and the worst that happened during the year that is about to end.
As 2009 is my first full year as a blogger, I could not resist developing my own, very personal top ten in the area of government 2.0 and surroundings. As in the most classical tradition of top tens, I will go in reverse order, from number ten to number one, and provide my own, again very personal and totally arbitrary mark to each of those entries.
Irrespective of my judgment, each and every one of these is a testament to the effort and persistence of thousands of women and men – both in the public and the private sector – who are helping change the way governments operate. We should be grateful to all of them, for what they have achieved and for what will be possible thanks to their accomplishments.
10. European Declaration on E-Government (C-)
The European E-Government Conference, held in Malmo (Sweden) on November 19 and 20, delivered the traditional E-Government Declaration that EU ministers issue every other year.
Admittedly these declaration are a very complex balancing act. The EU does not have jurisdiction on how public administrations in different member states operate, unless is in connection with a particular EU policy (see the EU Services Directive for an example). Further, EU member states are in very different stages of maturity in their e-government and citizen engagement plans and finding a common denominator across them is a challenge in itself.
This being said, the declaration articulates a rather compelling vision, pressing all the right buttons, from user-driven services to the importance of public information and open government. Unfortunately the suggested implementation mechanisms are the same we have seen in previous declarations and there is no clear attempt at trying something new. Studies, best practice exchanges, R&D activities, call for open standards and open source are all good things, but should we judge their potential from the lack of EU e-government accomplishments in the past, I would not hold my breath here. At most, we’ll see another round of questionable EU-wide e-government benchmarks.
9. Barcamps and Gov 2.0 Conferences (C)
2009 has seen countless conferences, unconferences, barcamps and govcamps. Probably the highest profile one – but by no means the first nor the last for 2009 – was the Gov 2.0 Summit held in DC on September 8 and 9 and organized by O’Reilly (a couple of discussions stemming for that event are here and here).
These events are very valuable for practitioners in the field to exchange views and ideas, to feel a stronger sense of community, to keep gov 2.0 visible to more traditional media and politicians, and to globally advance its agenda (assuming there is one).
The downside of these events is that they usually preach to the converted. Avid web 2.0 users, bloggers, twitterers and the likes find them extremely useful and exciting, but I doubt barcamps help buy more people to the cause. Like some of the discussions we have on our respective blogs, we deal with issues and debate topics that are hardly compelling for the general public, including the vast majority of government employees who have little clue – or little interest – about the potential of social media to change the way they work.
8. U.S: Open Government DIrective (C+)
As the first concrete planning document issued by the young and dynamic Obama administration, I am sure many would expect this to make at least the top three in this ranking.
Well, first of all it made the top ten, which is not bad at all. Second, this placing does not mean that the work done by the Obama team has not been excellent (see later in this ranking). However it is fair to say that given all the anticipation, the Directive itself is underwhelming.
Most likely its value and its transformational potential is in the eye of the beholder. Those agencies that have a genuine desire to seize the advantages of government 2.0 will take it as an enabler to strengthen their social media and citizen engagement strategies. Those who are more reluctant will take this as something they need to comply with and will do the bare minimum to do so.
What is key here is the ability of Office of Management and Budget with the US Federal CIO and the Office of Science and Technology Policy with the US Federal CTO to make sure departments and agencies see the value for their respective missions. Besides monitoring how agencies comply, they should also complement the initiatives required by the Directive with additional measures in areas such as rewarding innovation, empowering employees, sharing and stabilizing effective social media policies, and so forth.
7. UK G-Cloud Strategy (B-)
With less publicity but comparable effort as their overseas counterparts, UK government officials – in cooperation with a few vendors – have been developing a government cloud (or G-cloud) strategy.
While details are still being worked out, elements of its vision have been made public. It appears that, besides creating something similar to apps.gov (the cloud storefront launched by the US), it focuses also on how to rationalize data centers across the whole of government. This is not an easy task, as those data centers are sourced in many different ways. Another aspect that is being considered are also the use of apps.gov for government-developed components that could be shared across departments: this is something that could definitely advance the software reuse agenda that many European governments have been discussing over the last several years.
There are two reasons why this strategy – which looks somewhat more comprehensive than the US one – does not get a better ranking. The first one is that it is blurred with the recently rumored radical outsourcing of government IT (see also Gartner research note, clients only).The second, related reason is that it may suffer from the influence of those – indeed very few – vendors that CAN afford being the players in these massive outsourcing deals.
6. British Smarter Government Report (B-)
The British government has always been exemplary in its reports about government transformation through technology. Since its very first e-government strategy, it has always paved the way for most of Europe and often the rest of the world to examine ways to leverage technology for effectiveness and efficiency. However the execution has not always been at the same level as the vision, due to the complexity and legacy that characterize the UK public sector.
The Digital Britain report first, and the “Putting the Frontline First: smarter government” report afterwards belong to this tradition. As I pointed out in a previous post, the latter breaks new ground in areas like the proposed use of analytics for predictive risk modeling and in encouraging greater citizen participation in service delivery.
Implementation may be difficult and somewhat complicated by the parallel outsourcing trends mentioned above, but the reports lays a good foundation for progress.
5. U.S. Federal Cloud Computing Strategy (B)
Since when he was appointed, the US Federal CIO Vivek Kundra pushed for a cloud computing agenda. His aggressive stance on this topic has raised many eyebrows among federal agencies, but has also set the bar high enough for many of them to start looking into the cloud potential.
The excellent work done by the GSA, taking the lead on cloud computing strategy and hosting its first tangible outcome (apps.gov, the procurement storefront for public cloud services), is moving this in the right direction, looking at critical issues such as security, standards and change management.
Unlike the UK strategy, which is taking a comprehensive look at private and public cloud, the US one focused on low hanging fruits first, although the launch of apps.gov may look a bit premature as it had an unbalanced vendor representation and left some procurement questions still unanswered (see Gartner research note, clients only).
Next year will be critical to move from software as a service on public cloud to other offerings, such as platform and infrastructure as a service on private and community clouds, which are the most important for mission-critical workloads.
4. GovLoop (A-)
This member-only online community has grown into a very large resource for government officials, vendors, consultants and the general public to access to and exchange information around a variety of government topics. Started on a purely voluntary basis by a then DHS employee, it has been acquired by GovDelivery, a supplier of government-to-citizen email and wireless communication systems.
While in a post I said that the acquisition may cast some shadows on GovLoop’s future, in the few months after that the community has consistently grown and thrived.
The mention here is not just for GovLoop’s founder but for the many active members who show to government agencies around the world the tangible benefits of collaboration across boundaries.
3. Obama’s Technology Team (A-)
In the relatively short history of IT in government I do not think we have ever witnessed anything like Obama’s “dream team” of IT leaders. They are young, energetic, enthusiastic and most of them have that little touch of naivety with respect to the machinery of federal government that gives them enough freedom to make innovative and sometimes controversial statements, as well as push the boundaries.
From Vivek Kundra to Aneesh Chopra, Beth Noveck and many others, these people have both individually and as a team the potential to make change happen.
On the other hand, they have been through the easiest part of their job: the early days of a new administration, the huge political capital of president Obama, a green field for innovation. Now they will be measured by how much they are able to deliver on their vision. To some extent, their attitude has changed over time already, as they learn how to deal with internal politics, and adjust times and tone of their deliverables to the pace of federal government.
2. Australian Government 2.0 Taskforce (A)
There is not much more to say about this than what I wrote in previous posts (here and here). This group of individuals produced a truly excellent report in a remarkably short period of time, reaching out to experts inside and outside government worldwide, and showing a rare attitude to listening to other people’s opinions.
We do not know how many of their breakthrough recommendations will be translated into concrete policy action. But even if only a fraction does, their experience will remain a concrete testament to the value of what government people can achieve.
Which leads me to the number one in my personal top ten.
1. The Unsung Heroes: Government Employees (A+)
Behind the many visible efforts that governments are doing around the globe to innovate and lead their organizations into the 21st century, there are many more stories, very often at the more local level, that nobody or very few hear about and that witness the pivotal role that government officials play in this transformation.
Unconventional and unpredictable uses of consumer social media to detect or prevent crime, find a job to unemployed people, deliver better child care, identify tax fraud, reduce the cost of government operation, deal with the new challenges posed by the financial economic crises, and much, much more. While many agencies still block access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, thousands of government employees around the world are using these very tools to solve concrete problems and do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
Every week, in a client conversation, I find one of these little, big stories. They rarely make the press, and they rarely imply any reward or recognition for those employees who tool the initiative.
I will keep telling these stories because I am convinced that employees are the single most critical success factor for government to transform the way it delivers value to its constituents.
Source: Andrea DiMaio
Open source database management company Ingres Corporation announced on Wednesday the award of the Hungarian government’s open source software tender which has a four-year, USD22.3m budget.
A consortium of seven companies led by FreeSoft plc (Budapest:FREESOFT), a service provider in the software development sector in Hungary, participated in winning the tender.
During the next four years these firms will supply the Hungarian government with software valued at HUF4m (USD22.3m).
Ingres said that it will play an active role in all FreeSoft projects as the open source database of choice.
The Walloon Government wants to use the European Commission’s open source software repository and development platform (OSOR Forge), announced Béatrice Van Bastelaer, Commissioner of the eAdministration and Simplification Agency of the Walloon Region (EASI-WAL), at a workshop in the Belgian city of Charleroi on 26 November 2009.
“Using and developing open source software is not our primary aim, but it does give us the solutions that we need: flexible, upgradable and at reasonable cost. This type of software help us to avoid vendor lock-in; we can re-use them, we share them and in most cases, we pay for them just once”, said Van Bastelaer.
The conference attracted about two hundred attendees, including some fifty representatives of public administrations in the Walloon Region.
One of the aims of the open source seminar was to make these aware of the issues of procuring open source software. Van Bastelaer for instance explained how managing an open source project brings new challenges in terms of expertise and soft skills for civil servants.
“Understanding the context of open source projects is essential. For example, public administrators need to realise the importance of re-distribution of code. And there are all kinds of other issues that need to be taken care of, such as proper documentation.”
Attendees debated whether requesting open source would be discriminatory. However, according to François Elie, the chairman of Adullact, a French organisation for civil servants involved in open source “anyone can participate in such a tender, even vendors that usually provide only proprietary software”.
On behalf of Rudy Demotte, the Minister-President of the Walloon Government, a spokesperson presented the section on Open Source in the region’s IT policy. “(The Walloon region shall) promote systematically the use of open source software and open standards in the regional administrations and promote their use by citizens, communes and companies.”
Also presented at the conference were Tabellio, an open source workflow system and content management software aimed to be used by parliaments, municipal councils and other governmental assemblies, and Lutece, an open source portal management software.
A few of the civil administrators expressed their worries on the use open source. During one of the sessions, they cited getting negative reactions from management and being pressured by proprietary vendors. “Come on, civil servants”, responded one of the presenters. “To get fired you need to kill your superior, with evil premeditation. Moving to open source is a small risk to take, I dare you.”
I was asked two very interesting questions by a thoughtful technical architect who worked for a major Local Authority who now, like many many others in this sector, wanted to know more about open source software.
He wanted to know, in the light of the Government’s well-publicised new found enthusiasm for open source software, whether I thought they would all be using open source software in ten year’s time and if so when and how would it all happen?
The first question was easy.
“Yes,” I replied to the first question and not quite disingenuously added, “if we were to have this conversation in ten year’s time I would be amazed if you were running any proprietary software.”
I meant what I said but did not really answer the question as the more attentive reader will have spotted. We shall return to this question later, but first to the second question – when and how?
I was a bit stumped.
I knew the public purse was cash-strapped to say the least, I knew how much FOSS could save them and I knew the Government were the new FOSS evangelists.
I also new these reasons were not enough.
After all it’s a very ‘big ask’ to have hyper-accountable, sensibly risk-averse, very complex organisations believe the likes of me and take the plunge into FOSS. So I scrabbled in my head for an answer and said spontaneously, “when a major ICT outsourcer goes bust!.”
As I said that, we had what can only be described as an ‘Icelandic Bank’ moment (as we know this is not a topic that LA’s like to think about)…that’s unthinkable.
My answers above were of course typical ‘flow of talk’ answers, not quite flip but not enough time to have had a good think. Below is the product of a bit more thinking and a little Googling.
I’ll take the questions in reverse order.
Fully one fifth of Local Authority and Government ICT is now outsourced. The rise of the outsourcer in this sector has been meteoric (or explosive if you prefer). As the public purse dwindles the promises of cost cutting by outsourcing to the private sector grow ever more attractive and most analysts think the likes of Capita and Serco will pick up even more business in the coming months.
To illustrate, check out the following figures for Capita. This year alone they picked up (so far) £500 million in new contracts which will bring their revenue to nearly £3 billion a figure made even more impressive when in 1997 when the Labour Government first came to power it was a thirtieth of that.
This year their first pre-tax half year profits on those billions were £83 million. Profits margins were down in 2008 to only 11% and according to analysts are set to shrink further. This is an organisation that certainly does not profiteer at our expense.
However, times are hard for all of us.
On cannot help noticing when visiting outsourced LA and Government departments how old the printers and PCs are, or how development work on software packages like VLE’s and Management Information Software seems glacially slow
Outsourced ICT providers still have to pay for software (exclusively proprietary it seems ) and licences and no one knows what this costs them. Can they afford to upgrade to MS Server 2008 and Windows 7? ..possibly not.
And what of these new contracts are they profitable or just cash flow/market share jobs?
One I know about was for the ICT ‘Home Access Programme’ which laudably provides funds to allow the poorest children to be able to access IT and the Internet. Nobody I have spoken to eligible to tender could see how they could make a profit from it and still deliver a reasonable service. One of the major outsource ICT service providers apparently did.
I am not saying the private outsource sector is in trouble, I do not have that information I am just saying that the Public Sector has not even begun to think about the possibility of a major ICT outsourcer running into trouble.
I’m just saying outsourcing risk does not remove the risk.
Oh no please, not that again. Apologies, but the G-Cloud, the Government’s Microsoft driven, private data cloud and application store is coming soon. It is not really conceivable that Local Authorities will not be encouraged to use it!
So this returns me to my first answer.
I said that I don’t think in ten year’s time the public sector will be running its own proprietary software.
Indeed, if the Government gets its way there will be a jolly big proprietary cloud running free open source applications and all the LAs will have to do is fire up a browser on a dumb-ish terminal.
No need to outsource that service then!. No need either for an Open Source infrastructure either…ah.
We really are living in interesting ICT times. In 2010 we face the possibility of a radical shift in Government who may or may not continue the love affair with all things Microsoft and outsourcing to party donors combined with an economic scene where all the explosive growth bubbles have now burst.
We could be looking in evolutionary terms like a meteor has struck us. Ironically the LAs, the most cautious and conservative of creatures will like all before them have assessed all of the threats except the one that gets them.
I wonder too if the Open Source creatures currently scurrying around will have their day or will they perish too?
I know that some reader will raise their eyebrows reading the title. After all, cloud computing is intimately connected to open source: Linux servers are at the basis of most cloud infrastructures, and several applications that can be consumed as a cloud-based service are either open source or based on open source components. One may be almost tempted to look at the two as being strictly intertwined and mutually dependent.
Well, maybe they are from a vendor perspective, but a client conversation this morning confirmed my suspicion that they may be on a crash course, as I already wrote a few months ago. I was chatting with a CIO from a local authority in the UK and we were discussing about the outlook of open source software deployment in local government around the world. The UK government published an interesting open source policy (a Gartner research note for subscribers is available here), but it appears that not much happened since its publication. A recent survey of local authorities showed that many are still waiting for more guidance around product assessment and maturity models from central government.
But the new buzzword, both in London and in Washington, is cloud computing, and in particular the definition (and – maybe – development) of a government cloud (nicknamed G-cloud). So open source software is certainly losing momentum and political appeal, while cloud computing is gaining press coverage and executive interest.
More concretely though, and this was the point of our conversation, cloud-based alternatives to proprietary infrastructures, operating systems, office productivity suites, web servers and other applications, are becoming more palatable than open source software. First of all, going open source does not free a government agency from a vendor, who will provide an open source product (usually cheaper than a proprietary one): government agencies downloading their own operating systems or word processors from community sites and maintaining them with internal resources (including contractors) are in a tiny and rapidly declining minority.
Therefore some of the primary drivers to choose open source, i.e. cost and vendor independence, are just going away: in most cases cloud-based solution are going to be cheaper (and more elastic), and to use open source one has to go through a vendor anyhow. As a consequence I have seen a drop of interest in open source and corresponding surge of interest in cloud computing to solve pretty much the same problems (how do I reduce my dependence on Microsoft? how do I save on licensing costs?).
Of course there are still plenty of reasons supporting the importance of open source.
- What if you have to change vendor (because it goes bust or just becomes too expensive)? With open source there is a chance that another vendor or at least a community can support you, whereas portability between cloud services is still far from reality.
- What about the impact on local economy? Many have predicted the beauty of open source in government on the basis that it would create and sustain a local ecosystem of IT skills. This is not the case with cloud-based applications, that most likely run somewhere else without using any of the physical or intellectual resources in your jurisdiction, and without even indirectly benefiting your economy.
However these issues pale if compared with increasing budget constraints, hiring freezes that prevent from refreshing skills, financial vulnerability of small vendors and so forth. Cloud computing implies risks, but creates economies of scale that can benefit large as well as small government organizations.
Let’s face it. While open source software has often increased the need for application development ad other technical resources, cloud computing may ultimately make IT go away. Which one do you think sound more appealing to government executives?
Nem csak Microsoft szoftverlicencek beszerzését támogatja már a közbeszerzés: megjelent a Red Hat is a porondon.
A Miniszterelnöki Hivatal 2009. április 2-án tartott sajtótájékoztatóján jelentette be, hogy megnyitotta a hazai költségvetési intézmények valamint a köz- és felsőoktatás számára az évente beszerzett Microsoft termékek – azaz a zárt forráskódú, tulajdonosi szoftverek – mellett a nyílt forráskódú szoftverek beszerzésének lehetőségét is. A hivatalos nevén a „Keretmegállapodás kötése a 168/2004. (V. 25.) Kormányrendelet hatálya alá tartozó, illetve a központosított közbeszerzési eljáráshoz önként csatlakozó intézmények által korábban beszerzett szoftverlicencek bővítésére, kiegészítésére, meghosszabbítására, verziókövetésére, cseréjére valamint új szoftverlicencek beszerzésére és kapcsolódó szolgáltatások teljesítésére” tárgyú eljárás nyílt szabványú és nyílt forráskódú szoftverekre szóló részteljesítéseinek eredményhirdetése alapján az ULX mellett a FEFO, a Freesoft, a Kventa, a Multiráció, a WSH és a Navigator szállíthat a kiírásnak megfelelő szoftvereket a közigazgatás számára.
ULX két részteljesítésben fog szállítani nyílt forráskódú megoldásokat: az egyik a közbeszerzésre kötelezett intézmények köre, a második az oktatási intézmények köre. Az ULX széles portfóliót fog szállítani, többek között a Red Hat nyílt forráskódú vállalati szoftverinfrastruktúrájának teljes készletét, az operációs rendszertől kezdve az adatközpont szoftvereken át egészen a JBoss köztesréteg, illetve alkalmazás-fejlesztő környezetekig. Ezenkívül a Red Hat ökorendszeréhez tartozó egyéb nyílt forráskódú megoldások közül a Zimbra nyílt forráskódú levelező- és csoportmunka megoldás, illetve a nyílt forráskódú adatbázis szerver, a Postgres vállalati változata, a Postgres Plus és annak eszközei is bekerültek a portfólióba. Az ULX úgy állította össze a portfólióját, hogy egy kisebb önkormányzat, egy iskola szoftverigényeit, valamint egy központi kormányzati adatközpont igényeit ugyanúgy ki tudja elégíteni, a hozzá tartozó szolgáltatásokkal együtt.
Ezek az igények jelenthetik a kisebb és nagyobb adatközpontokban a virtualizációs megoldásokat, a JBoss köztesréteg és alkalmazáskörnyezet technológiát, beleértve a legmodernebb webes alkalmazásokat, valamint SOA rendszerek építésének az összes elemét. A felhasználóközelibb alkalmazásoknál rendelkezésre áll a Zimbra csoportmunka megoldás, amit a korábban megszokott környezetből is lehet használni, illetve modern Web 2.0-ás környezetben is, nem elvesztve a kompatibilitást Microsoftos rendszerekkel.
„Több éves kitartó munkánk megkoronázása ez a mai szerződéskötés, hiszen a nyílt forráskódú és nyílt szabványú rendszerek külön részteljesítésben kaptak helyet a központosított közbeszerzésben Magyarországon először.” – nyilatkozta, Dr. Szentiványi Gábor, az ULX ügyvezető igazgatója – „Megtörni látszik az a hagyomány, hogy bizonyos gyártók termékeire írnak ki közbeszerzést. A hazai központosított közbeszerzés történetében egyedülálló módon most lehetőség nyílik a nyílt forráskódú szoftverek széles körének a beszerzésére, ráadásul nem egy adott gyártó termékére kiírva, hanem egy esélyegyenlőséget biztosító verseny eredményeképpen.”
The UK government has published a new policy aimed at promoting the use of open source software in the public sector.
The Danish Ministry of Science (National IT & Telecom Agency) has published ‘Open Source Software and the Public Sector’ in which principles for strategic use of open source software are outlined.
The popular Linux distribution Ubuntu is making gains in some pretty important places, namely the French military police force National Gendarmerie. The government-run organization is planing to migrate all of its desktop PCs to Ubuntu by 2014, leaving the world of Microsoft behind it. The French National Assembly already switched all its PCs to Ubuntu in 2007, but its 1,200 desktops pales in comparison to the scope of the Gendarmerie’s conversion of 70,000 machines.
The Gendarmerie has been moving towards open source slowly over the past few years, first ditching Microsoft Office in favor of the free Open Office as a replacement for Powerpoint, Excel, and Word. Then the organization left Internet Explorer and Outlook for Mozilla’s Firefox browser and its lesser known sister application the Thunderbird E-mail client.
According to the Gendarmerie, moving to Linux will have 3 major benefits. One, it will allow it to diversify its suppliers instead of relying on one company. Two, the nature of open source puts the operating system in complete control of the police force, allowing it to tailor the software to its needs. And three, the cost. Ubuntu is free, as are most other Linux distributions. And that should make the tax payers happy.