Government falls in love with open source

The government is championing open source, vowing to boost its uptake in public services to reduce costs and risk and boost innovation, according to a newly published report.

Unveiled yesterday, the 'Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use: Government Action Plan' extols the virtues of non-proprietary technologies.

In a statement accompanying the report, Tom Watson MP, Minister for Digital Engagement, said that open source was a great example of how people working together can come up with products to "rival and sometimes beat those of giant corporations." He added that open source use encourages greater innovation, supports agility and cost cutting and sophisticated and beneficial information re-use.

Watson said that the key was to ensure solutions were selected based on their ability not only to do their job, but also to ensure the best value for money and that both overheads and risks could be somewhat reduced simply by re-using technologies where appropriate.

"Over the past five years many government departments have shown that Open Source can be best for the taxpayer in our web services, in the NHS and in other vital public services," he said.

"So we consider that the time is now right to build on our record of fairness and achievement and to take further positive action to ensure that Open Source products are fully and fairly considered throughout government IT; to ensure that we specify our requirements and publish our data in terms of Open Standards; and that we seek the same degree of flexibility in our commercial relationships with proprietary software suppliers as are inherent in the open source world."

Many vendors have been quick to come forward in support of the government's plans, including open source veteran Sun Microsystems.

"In the current economic climate, attention is focused on ways to keep down costs while increasing return on investment. The UK Government could save millions of pounds every year if it made more use of open source as part of a competitive procurement system. We are convinced that open source and open standards drive much needed choice, competition and innovation in the market," said Kim Jones, president and managing director for Sun Microsystems in the UK and Ireland, in a statement.

Simon Phipps, the company's chief open source officer, added: "Sun views, open source as an ideal foundation for development and business in today's massively connected economy. And we believe an open source model offers liberties to every user and developer that encourages genuinely collaborative innovation, especially by allowing rapid, adoption-led approaches to software acquisition."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.