Report: 'Pragmaticism to guid…

Report: 'Pragmaticism to guide open source adoption, not ideology'

Published on: 11/12/2011

Public administrations need a strategy and a plan to work towards open source, concludes a study for the UK Cabinet Office, published recently. "Implementing this type of software is not a quick fix nor offers an easy win-win scenario."

"Migrating to open source is more likely to be successful if it is done when there is a real and present need for change or a new approach, rather than simply on the basis of finding open source attractive on infrastructure cost arguments."

A growing body of experience among public sector bodies reveals important lessons for political leaders, public sector policy makers and IT managers, write authors Maha Shaikh from Warwick University Business School and Tony Cornford from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The two researcher explain they want to provide a balanced assessment of the potential of open source software within the public sector. They base their report on the results of a survey, completed by thirty respondents and interviews with twenty experts in fourteen organisations in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Brazil.

Not about cheap

Open source is not just or only or always about 'cheap', is their first conclusion. This type of software can bring a number of distinct and enduring benefits when contrasted to proprietary software, and many of these are directly financial. They note that experts agree that cost saving and cost avoidance are achievable. "And case studies support this contention."

The authors gather that if open source is to become an accepted and substantial part of information systems activity within the public sector, then it needs government-level policies to sustain the change. This includes an overhaul of procurement processes and practices. "Most see this as an essential levelling of the playing field that can provide open source service companies, particularly in the SME sector, with new opportunities for growth."

The survey shows that the two major strategic drivers for open source adoption are reducing vendor lock-in and value for money. Other factors at work are open standards support, business agility and support for incremental development.

More information:

Total cost of ownership of open source software (pdf)

UK Cabinet open source procurement toolkit


opnsrccons (not verified)
Sun, 11/12/2011 - 14:42

Great study, let's hope uk govt read it, not shelve it

Wed, 14/12/2011 - 15:22

Related news - would like to know more about this - in particular if they already have a linux distribution in mind?

Thu, 15/12/2011 - 16:02

I asked, they don't know yet. Watch out for the next news item here..


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