Tories Back Open Source Software...They Say

Evidence that open source and the more general concept of openness are becoming trendy: the politicians are bandying them around again. There was a flurry of this stuff last year, and here is the latest effort from the Tories:

George Osborne has welcomed recommendations from Dr Mark Thompson on how to deliver better value for money in IT procurement and create a level playing-field for open source software.

More specifically:

The Government could save at least £600 million per year if it adopted a more effective open IT procurement process. The open source savings would come not just from reduced licensing costs, but importantly by freeing government bodies from long-term, monopoly supply situations.

New government data standards should be introduced across government, creating a level playing-field for open source software.

These new standards would enable large-scale IT projects to be split into small modular components, meaning that the UK government should never again need to sign an IT software contract worth over £100 million – so no more IT ‘white elephants’.

Now, this is all a bit vague, but I think it's significant that we have a reference not just to open source software, but standards that would create “a level playing-field for open source”, which presumably means open standards, and “open IT procurement process”. In other words, it's not just jumping on the open source bandwagon, but shows some appreciation that there are broader implications for both standards and procurement.

Fine words butter no cyber-parsnips, of course, and I'll believe all this when I see it. Still, it's a start, and it would be good to see Labour finally admitting that its megalomaniacal, monolithic computing projects are failures, and adopting the decentralised, distributed approach the Tories are advocating here.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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