IDG News Service - Open-source software needs a higher profile in Washington, D.C., according to a group of about 70 organizations and companies that launched a new campaign to educate U.S. government agencies about the benefits of open source.
Members of the Open Source For America coalition, which launched Wednesday, include Google, The Linux Foundation, the Mozilla and Debian projects, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
The coalition's goal is not to convince the U.S. government to favor open-source software over proprietary code, but to give open source an equal chance to win government contracts, said Tom Rabon, executive vice president for corporate affairs at Red Hat. In recent years, some open-source groups, particularly outside the U.S., have pushed governments to mandate open-source software instead of using software from U.S.-based Microsoft.
That's not the approach from OSFA, Rabon said. "We just want make sure that our government is taking advantage of every opportunity," he said. "To the extent that we can make them more aware of not being locked into a particular technology and the collaboration aspects of open source, these are the types of things that just take time for them to understand."
Microsoft is not part of the coalition. A Microsoft spokesman referred questions about the company's reaction to the coalition to a blog post last week by Teresa Carlson, Microsoft's public sector federal lead, who questioned often-cited benefits of open-source software.
Open-source software, sometimes free to acquire, doesn't always lead to lower IT costs, Carlson wrote. In addition, Carlson questioned the long-standing claim that open-source software is generally more secure than proprietary software.
"The challenge with an open source development process is that the process by its nature is ad hoc and voluntary, making it difficult to determine if the methodology itself reduces vulnerabilities," Carlson wrote.
Microsoft supports many open standards, Carlson also wrote. "The reality is that governments operate in a mixed source world so interoperability and security should be prioritized across the board," she said. "Let’s make sure that in licensing and business models, government retains its freedom to choose. Interoperability fosters competition, and competition leads to innovation, enabling government to get the best value for taxpayer dollars. "
Open-source software is not new to the U.S. government. Several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, have long used the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server, for example. But government contracting proposals aren't always written to give small open-source companies a good chance of winning, Rabon said.
OSFA's goal is to raise awareness across the U.S. government and to give open-source companies a voice, said David Thomas, spokesman for the coalition. "What we're looking for is to level the playing field," he said.
Individual members of the coalition have representatives in Washington, but there's been no one devoted full-time to promoting open-source and educating the government about it, Rabon said. "If you're going to be heard in Washington, you have to have a presence," he said. "There's no one voice that can speak for all of us."
This seems like a good time to promote open-source software, with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration pushing open and transparent government, Rabon added.
"Their use of technology has sort of been a wake-up call to all of us," Rabon said. "The more open you are, the more opportunity there is to participate."
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Path Selection Infographic
- Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic
- A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era
- From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs
- If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity... All Government IT White Papers
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- All Government IT Webcasts