foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world


Ministry of Justice, Open Source discussion paper

, posted: 12-Dec-2007 09:36

From the New Zealand Open Source Society, we learn today in this posting here that the New Zealand Ministry of Justice has released a discussion paper about open source. If even the government finally wakes up and gets around to it, I think it is safe to say that business and academic institutions should do the same.

From the paper:
...the adoption of OSS can lead to a more stable, supportable, and cost-effective IT environment, and should be pursued for pragmatic reasons. OSS adoption is not a panacea, and should proceed or not based on a particular package's merits. Given two equivalent packages, one open and one proprietary, the OSS one would be the preferable choice for reasons of better supportability and lower lifecycle cost.
The paper goes on to say:
Private enterprises, especially for-profit software development companies, face incredible challenges in adapting to the widespread use of OSS. Yet for governments, the challenges are fewer, because maintaining proprietary competitive information is not within government's scope as it is with a vendor of proprietary software. Government implements software to accomplish its goals, not to gain competitive advantage over another organisation.
Most businesses will be in the same situation: They implement software to accomplish goals, which are unrelated to software itself. The software is just a means to an end. Therefore, OSS is a natural and fitting choice for the vast majority of organisations that are in this situation.

But it's true: If you are a vendor of proprietary software then OSS is a huge challenge to you. Your business is possibly based on what you deem to be proprietary competitive information. However, in today's business and academic software there is actually very little that is incredibly ground breaking or proprietary in as far as fancy new algorithms is concerned.

No, the proprietary information we are mostly talking about here is the implementation of protocols and document formats, which are kept as proprietary only to further vendor lock-in, not because they are so wonderfully technically advanced. Therefore, the proprietary aspects of most commercial software these days only serve to further the goals of the vendor, and not of the customer in any way. Why (as a customer) would you voluntarily relinquish control over your data to a vendor that uses proprietary data formats and protocols only to lock you in?

What users care about is the functionality and their data. As an open source vendor you know that the customer is not locked-in. Your product, protocols and document formats are all open. Your customers know that. You learn to compete on customer value and service. That is a true benefit to the customer.

Other related posts:
Munich already saved millions by switching to Linux
Smooth sailing with the Karmic Koala
A Linux distro for Cuba








Comment by inane, on 12-Dec-2007 13:36

thought provoking stuff :)


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New Zealand


  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.




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