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UK Government Breaks Open Source Promises

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  • Sad truth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:01AM (#37314878)

    Sadly, this is not that surprising. We are talking about the Government of the United Kingdom, or Her Majesty's Government [wikipedia.org] as it is officially known. If you were a queen (who in the 21st century still won't enter the House of Commons and only talk with the House of Lords) then who would you rather listen to: him [youtube.com] or him [youtube.com]? We in the open-source [opensource.org] movement have a problem with image. The sad truth is that the very people thanks to whom that movement was started don't really care about they appearance, the arguments that would get to the Upper Class. They think that just because they are Right - which they are, no doubt about that - everyone will automatically recognize that and make decision based on what would be the best for the humanity. Sadly we live in the world of politicians, lobbies, parties, Kings and Queens. We have to recognize that and work on our appearance if we ever want to go main stream.

    • I'm not sure why you were modded down, that seems silly. I think you make a valid point. There is still an overwhelming perception in the business world that to get anything done you have to use Microsoft products when that is simply not the case.
      • Re:Sad truth (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cavreader (1903280) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @10:03AM (#37315526)
        And just what facts are you using to support the claim "overwhelming perception in the business world that to get anything done you have to use Microsoft products"? Open Source alternatives are just another choice available to those who are responsible for maintaining and building their systems. Replacing current applications with open source alternatives can be a daunting task for both medium and large sized corporations. Things like re-training the existing in-house IT staff, re-training existing users, deciding exactly which combination of open source applications are capable of fulfilling existing functionality, converting existing application data, and a reluctance to risk violating licensing requirements which can be open to liberal interpretations and are constantly being challenged today in court. Even when Open Source licenses are upheld in court it still means legal expenses for both parties of the dispute. By now people know there are open source applications but choosing open source to support a "cause" or "movement" or to just to stick it to MS can be reckless.
        • by tomtomtom (580791)

          I have to disagree there. The (very large) organisation I work for moved from Lotus Notes to Outlook recently which is arguably a much worse transition for users and involves significant backend work - probably not more than moving to something OSS would have done. Plenty of large organisations use OSS in the back-office extensively.

          The real issue is that OSS is just not good enough in many instances to replace the proprietary stuff. In particular, Excel and Outlook are very far ahead of the OSS alternative

          • by Anonymous Coward

            the issue with Word and Powerpoint is that format compatibility is not quite 100% so all your old documents

            Too bad managers' minds are too small to see how tightly they bind proprietary shackles around their companies' data.

            Too bad the technically inclined are too meek to speak up.

            Too bad a lot of IT people are Philosophy and English majors.

            The whole industry is full of pretenders and incompetents, and the tax payers foot the overpriced bill.

          • I am not arguing that only transitioning from a proprietary closed source platform to an open source platform is difficult. Transitioning any system from one platform to another presents difficulties and challenges across the board. I was just commenting on those that evangelize open source as the savior of IT without considering the entire picture of what is involved in attempting such a large change. A lot of developers have made the open source/propriety source argument into an "us versus them" conflict
        • by Anonymous Coward

          There are lots of companies around London that handle 'outsourcing' of Government IT infrastructure. I work for one of them.

          Our business model is this:

          1) We have had our foot in the door for years, so pretty much all new tenders for work come straight to us, rather than find the best company for the job.
          2) We promise the government the world with an equally high price tag for it but have no intention of delivering
          3) We use standard off the shelf, *supported* products, by big names, that we're vaguely famili

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          Things like re-training the existing in-house IT staff, re-training existing users, deciding exactly which combination of open source applications are capable of fulfilling existing functionality, converting existing application data,

          While it would be wasteful to rip and replace existing systems just for the sake of moving them to open source, new systems are introduced all the time and old systems are retired/replaced. This is where open source should be deployed, and if training is going to be provided it will be needed regardless of what new/replacement systems are implemented.

          As for deciding what software can fulfil given requirements, thats something thats not done enough anyway... A lot of departments simply trust what sales drone

          • "Considering that the government hardly ever distributes software this is pure FUD" This is just just one example out of the thousands of companies who do distribute software and must satisfy the licensing agreements. The GPL and BSD licenses have not prevented Oracle, Google, and other large companies from challenging these requirements in court. And your definition of "restrictions" might not be the same as those challenging the license in court. And it is usually the definitions in these licenses that f
    • Re:Sad truth (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:34AM (#37315226)
      I'm fairly certain that Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II does not work in a software procurement department in Whitehall. Although times are hard, perhaps she moonlights? What does Philip do, drive a cab?
      • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @11:03AM (#37316108) Homepage

        When it comes to stuck in the mud unable to change, the monarchy in the UK is a prime example of it. Keep in mind monarchy was basically a system of government based upon torturing to death anyone who disagreed or even might possibly disagree. Basically a system of government based upon homicidal psychopaths and their loyal psychopathic minions. That's the heritage of monarchy and one can see it today in various autocratic states when power is handed down within a family and opponents are executed in the most horrific fashion imaginable ie. Libya, Syria, North Korea etc. etc.

        Really honestly any sane person should be ashamed and embarrassed to be part of a royal (descendent of homicidal maniac) family but no they strut about like insane clowns with delusions of grandeur, now that is really embarrassingly backward, much like continuing the closed source proprietary software route. No control, forced upgrades, wasted dollars auditing proprietary code (paying for the privileged debugging), data purposely degraded by upgrade incompatibilities and an endless stream of marketing lies that you as the consumer pay for.

        • Re:Sad truth (Score:5, Interesting)

          by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @12:31PM (#37317042)

          Your ancestors were of course saintly people who never did anything wrong ...

          The Monarchy now have very little power, have never put anyone to death in a very long time , almost nothing to do with government, cost us very little, and do a lot for tourism and stop us having a politician as President ...

          Our politicians however even though elected have gone against our will, strut more then the monarchy even when retired, taken us to war several times, and killed many people both our own, and foreign ... not exactly a decent alternative

           

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            You fail to consider that neither I nor the majority of politicians children go strutting about on the world stage like and bunch of doofuses pretending their someone special because of it. In fact a lot of politicians descendant's try to hide their shame and embarrassment takes a special kind of genetics to be proud of what other people would be ashamed of, it's generally called narcissism or psychopathy. Surely you can grasp the difference.

            • I have one answer George W Bush ...

              You also have not considered that the royal families paid job is to 'strut around the world stage' ... which they do with far less embarrassment to us than any politician ...

      • What does Philip do, drive a cab?

        +1 genius. British humour at its best.

      • What does Philip do, drive a cab?

        No; he's far too rude for that.

        • by Builder (103701)

          You've clearly not been in a London cab in a while - there are no bounds on rudeness.

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        Who? Do you mean Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? If you're an anti-monarchist and don't want to dignify her with her correct style, go the whole way and call her Elizabeth Windsor.

    • That's working under the assumption that people outside of the FOSS community see Stallman as a figurehead in any way. Linus is way more well known, and he's more presentable than Ballmer IMO. Besides, corruption is a much easier route. You could look and act like rms if had Bill Gates' bank account and still win those contracts.
    • Really? You are using the pomp and ceremony attached to Her Majesty's Government to support RMS? Thats got to be the funniest thing I have read in quite some time.

    • by tqk (413719)

      They think that just because they are Right - which they are, no doubt about that - everyone will automatically recognize that and make decision based on what would be the best for the humanity. Sadly we live in the world of politicians, lobbies, parties, Kings and Queens. We have to recognize that and work on our appearance if we ever want to go main stream.

      +5 Insightful for that?!?

      You're deluded if you think any amount of spit-polishing will make you any more of Their Sort of People(tm) than you are now. If you weren't born to the right parents, went to the right schools, were nominated for membership in the right clubs/societies, etc., you stay where you are and are thankful for it. Damn, the Help can be cheeky!

      Paul McCartney and Alex Ferguson can get OBEs or Knighthoods but I don't expect them to ever get invited into the real inner sanctums.

      You need to r

    • by DaveGod (703167)

      Er, what?

      The Queen has nothing to do with government IT procurement. She has very little to do with government bar rubber-stamping things (pretty much for the sake of tradition) and as a PR/international relations envoy. Government is the MP's who sit in the house of common(er)s. They are mainly led by the Cabinet (elected MPs given particular jobs by the party that elected the majority of MPs). The House of Lords is a second house. They aren't elected but are mainly given lifetime appointments by whoever w

    • by highways (1382025)

      If you were a queen (who in the 21st century still won't enter the House of Commons and only talk with the House of Lords)

      This extends from 1642, where King Charles I demanded the heads of five of its members. Since then, the monarch has been banned from the Commons and may not enter.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Calling for open source in government is calling for discounts (along with more kickbacks).

    I mean, who else is gonna subsidize their already good salary? Surely not those open source hicks /sarcasm

    • by delinear (991444)
      The real reason is even simpler than that - the people who ultimately make the buying decisions, middle management, don't want to risk their jobs. The choice is go out on a limb and choose an OSS solution or do what everyone around you has done for the last 20 years and buy MS. If you go OSS and something goes wrong, you will be the one facing the music, if you go MS and something goes wrong, their sales/support/PR people face the music. There's little incentive to be anything other than incredibly risk ave
  • BBC Article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:08AM (#37314948)

    The linked-to article cites a BBC FOI request as the source, but doesn't link to the BBC's own article on the subject [bbc.co.uk], as far as I can tell.

    • The summary appears to be deliberately misleading, saying the government "promised to favour open source" whereas the BBC article you cite merely says that open source should be considered "on a level playing field".

      That's not favouring. That's the opposite of favouring; it's a goal to stop favouring non-open source projects just because they're open source.

      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        That's not favouring. That's the opposite of favouring; it's a goal to stop favouring non-open source projects just because they're open source.

        Just because something is open source, it is not res ipsa loquitur better. Unless we're buying software on the basis of its openness instead of evaluating wether or not it actually solves the problem at hand.

        • Agreed, but when there are decent open source solutions, it would make more sense to favour open source due to it's advantages. I'd much rather see my tax money going on the government improving an existing open source project to exactly fit their needs than see the same money going into costly licensing fees.
  • It's basic stuff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:10AM (#37314964) Homepage Journal

    Well it's basic stuff and it happens in every country.

    The politicians are running the places and they are running them to their own advantage. The only question on any one of their mind is this:

    "Does this make ME more money?"

    The flow chart is then very simple:

    1. No? Forget about it.
    2. Yes? Let's do it.

    • It can't be bad as all that. If it really were, people would just stop using that supplier and go with a competing service.

      Monopolies are prohibited, right?

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        We are talking about government politicians, so what do you mean "people would just stop"? It's about kick backs, not about some silly notions of what's right or wrong in the market.

        Besides, government love monopolies, they create, protect and nurture them and then bail them out when things go sour. It's because monopolies have extra cash to throw around, and who do you think gets that cash thrown onto?

      • by Narcogen (666692)

        Monopolies are prohibited, right?

        Actually no, they're not. Abuse of the power that comes with having one is, but merely being one is not prohibited.

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        You'd be completely wrong. This is evident in both the public and private sectors. There's a reason they say, "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."

        Basically, the perception is that, since these guys charge a lot, they must be good at what they do. Since they're good at what they do, there's no reason to go with a competing service.

  • ...saying one thing to the public and then proceeding to do something different? I'm shocked, SHOCKED I say!

    Most of the parties are happy to go back on their own manifesto policies so this really shouldn't surprise anyone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are two great international truths in this world that eternally bond all cultures.

      1) The use of mind-altering substance (eg: booze).

      2) Politicians lie.

    • by delinear (991444)
      This is a huge issue and no doubt a big reason for the voter apathy (why turn out to vote when the person you voted for backs out of the policies you liked). There should be some kind of social contract attached to the hot button topics that means they aren't allowed to do a U-Turn in office without a referendum on the subject. Then the polititicians can decide what their important "This WILL definitely be implemented" topics are and flag them as such in their manifesto and we, as voters, would get to see i
  • by h00manist (800926) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:16AM (#37315026) Journal

    Reading between the lines here. If an entity known for manipulating the facts is "promising" something, seems to me it is basically telling you it won't do it. If the intent was to actually do it, it would be a "contract", "law", "regulation". Or at least a "decision", "commitment" perhaps. It would come with firm numbers - percentages, dates, amounts, numbers of contracts. If the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, Pinocchio or Gaddafi said "I promise", what would you count on happenning?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Yes, as a rule unless something is actually enacted by Parliment in some way, then a politician's promise on the subject is worth no more than anyone else's.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well, they would have to be pretty crazy to say that we're going for open source no matter how poorly it fits the requirements or the estimated costs. I don't know how people are thinking, but some of it sounds a little like RMS - it doesn't matter what software is good or bad as long as one is open and the other closed, open wins. I'd rather software win on merits, neither ideology nor FUD and kickbacks.

      • I must disagree. If you want to jump right into a vendor lock-in trap, go ahead. But a government can not be allowed to do so, for it affects everyone. This ought to be established by law: all software used by the government must be fully open.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          No lock-in is deeper than the cost of migrating to another tool, and I've run in proprietary software that has extremely good documentation of the database and all the functions and settings. Of course there's no other software that is a drop-in replacement working on the same database but I'd estimate the migration cost to be <1% of the cost of making any open source package do the same thing, since I'm not aware of anything even remotely close and it's a huge, advanced niche tool. Of course they're a c

  • When dealing with politics, never infer anything (that's what they want you to do). You see, they didn't actually PROMISE any such thing. A cabinet agency expressed a DESIRE to favor open source, and RECOMMENDED that government departments favor it. All of which amounts to a big ol' pile of jackshit.

    • Neither the article linked nor the BBC article cited near the top of the thread even included the word "favour". One included the phrase "level playing field" suggesting that, rather than favoring one thing or another, all were to compete fairly. The other mentions open standards, not open source, which is not the same thing at all.

      The summary is a bit of agenda-driven bile with no almost relation to the article it links to.

    • Is there a windows-to-linux migration how-to somewhere that helps admins deal with the usual technical challenges in doing something like this? It's a tough challenge, in many ways. Technical, training, political. Retraining, application migration, data migration, dealing with non-portable applications, migration cost payback time calculations, etc. There should be more cooperation in helping make Linux more competitive on more front that the technical. Microsoft has entire strategies dedicated to only

  • Their bribes are much smaller than the ones they'll get from going proprietary.

    The country can take care of itself, the new car won't wait.

  • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:24AM (#37315138) Homepage

    The commitment was for open STANDARDS, not open source. Open Standards are also a good thing, but they are not the same as open source.

    • You are of course correct, and the submitter is just an open source troll.

    • by Vanders (110092)
      You're quite correct. In fact, the submitter even took an article from eWeek titled "Government Wants Open Standards For IT Procurement" and linked to it with the text "promised to favour open source systems in its procurement", which of course is wrong on two counts: they never "promised" anything and they never said they'd favour "Open Source"!

      Why am I still surprised by such blatant idiocy? I've been on Slashdot long enough you'd think I'd be use to it by now.
      • by chrb (1083577)
        TFA links to Government Commits To Open Source Route [eweekeurope.co.uk] which states "The government has confirmed that when costs are similar, it will opt to purchase open source rather than proprietary software" and where Francis Maude's parliamentary statement is linked to, saying "The Government are committed to using more open source solutions where possible.".
    • No, the commitment specifically referred to open source [theyworkforyou.com]: "The Government are committed to using more open source solutions where possible." - Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, the commitment specifically referred to open source [theyworkforyou.com]: "The Government are committed to using more open source solutions where possible." - Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister.

        Where possible. That doesn't mean if there's an open source solution it wins. That means if there is an open source solution that is better we will use it. Only zealots would push to be fully open source regardless of cost and productivity of the people using it.

  • It used to be "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.".

    The moral for today in my industry (semigovernmental in CIO strategy) is all about corporate brand names. i.e. if there is no corporate big brand name attached it has no chance. If there is a corporate big brand name then by definition it's OK and let into the starting gate.

    IBM is still in the arena but there's a bunch other names at least in the US: Oracle, Microsoft, Computer Associates, (don't get me started on CA and their bleed-the-customer-dr
    • Governments are failure based organization. They punish failure and ignore success. This leave people to make the safe choice that will reduce failure. The safest choice it to be able to point out to everyone else who is using the product successfully.

    • by Xest (935314)

      The times I've had the opportunity to introduce FOSS solutions in public sector in the UK the response was resoundingly positive.

      The problem is during my time working in public sector there weren't any people like me deciding on the big contracts. The people deciding one larger rollouts were more interested in how hot the sales girl was.

      Unfortunately for FOSS, FOSS lobby groups don't send out any hot sales girls to be perved at by 55 yr old men waiting out their last few years for early retirement with a go

    • It used to be "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.".

      Yet I once got fired for calling my boss 'a cunt'. It's a harsh, miserable, unfair world.

    • by Jahava (946858)

      It used to be "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.". The moral for today in my industry (semigovernmental in CIO strategy) is all about corporate brand names. i.e. if there is no corporate big brand name attached it has no chance. If there is a corporate big brand name then by definition it's OK and let into the starting gate. IBM is still in the arena but there's a bunch other names at least in the US: Oracle, Microsoft, Computer Associates, (don't get me started on CA and their bleed-the-customer-dry strategy) or any of the major government/defense contractors. I've been fiendish a couple of times since Oracle bought MySQL, and the only way I got MySQL into the solution (and the solution did not need any fancy pants database features!) was by arguing that since Oracle owns it, it'll be OK to do it that way.

      Not that you're incorrect, but that's exactly what companies like Canonical (Ubuntu), Red Hat (RHEL, KVM), and EnterpriseDB (PostgreSQL) are there to do. It's perfectly reasonable for large investments to require the backing of companies with technical expertise, support, warranties, and liability. That shouldn't be a barrier of entry, however, as the open-source world has its own representation in those areas.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      It's not really about brand names though. It's about getting a solution that works and is affordable. Sometimes open source is more expensive. If a proprietary product has lots of professional contractors who know how to customize/support it then it may win over a new open source solution that does the same thing. Or if the proprietary product integrates into your existing solutions better, the company provides a full range of customer support, and so on.

      The biggest example here would be Microsoft Excha

  • by Carik (205890) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:31AM (#37315210)

    ... and discovering that it won't work for them, for whatever reason.

    They didn't say "We'll move to 50% OSS in the next year," they said "We'll look at it favorably." If they look at it and discover that, despite the costs involved in their existing software, they can't actually afford to move their data to an open source equivalent, it's not going to happen. And if it turns out there ISN'T an open source equivalent, it's really not going to happen.

    While I'm not saying OSS is always more expensive -- it usually is a lot cheaper, in my experience -- there can be times when it's cheaper to stick with what you've got. Think about it. If all your data is in a proprietary system in a non-standard format, and you don't have anyone on staff who can update it, it's going to be expensive to make the switch. That one time cost may be a lot more than you have in your budget for the yearly licensing fees of that proprietary system. After all, that's WHY that proprietary system uses its own unique data format....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure how the UK does it, but many of the US gov selection processes I've been involved in use a weighted assessment for picking a technical solution. A bunch of desired features are given point values and are weighted on importance. So on a 100 point scale, having a question like "Is it open source?" worth 1 point is actually favoring open source (all else being equal, open source will win).

  • I think you just have to look at who can afford to lobby government and provide more donations to political parties. The altruism of the Open Source Community is often used against it and, frankly, is seen as a source of cheap and excellent labour by technology companies. OSS is great, pervasive and largely unknown because those who know how to commercialise it, exploit it to their own ends.

    I won' t bother naming names because of the inevitable clueless fanboi attack I'm likely to be subjected to, but thos

  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday September 06, 2011 @09:42AM (#37315332)

    First up: Any government department that's got a significant investment in IT can't just go out and replace, say, Microsoft Office with LibreOffice overnight. There's a huge amount of testing to do, and when you hit upon things like Access databases and Excel spreadsheets that have become an entire department's IT system, it's very tempting to say "Stuff it. We'll stick with Office."

    It's even more tempting when the F/OSS firm says "Yes, we can replace all those things - it'll cost £X hundred thousand, mind." The cost of a migration to a newer version of Office isn't seen by the higher-ups for the exact same reason that these databases and spreadsheets were able to become so widespread without anyone noticing - the people that maintain them won't make a big song and dance, they'll simply quietly beaver away tweaking their database so it works in the Latest Greatest Version. The cost of that isn't seen.

    Second up: Something that a lot of people in IT don't realise unless/until they start their own business. Marketing something with any degree of success is remarkably hard - and it's as much an art as it is a science. At first, "make it free of charge" (or even "Make it remarkably cheap") sounds like an absolute corker of a strategy. How can anyone fail to sell a product when the cost is zero? Hell, you could probably throw up a website and have the world beating a path to your door inside a few days!

    It doesn't work like that. If you're buying a product of any significance, the choice of product probably comes more from the salesman than from the product itself. As soon as you start saying things like "the software is free, but you'd have to pay for consulting to make it all work together" - you've got two huge problems. "The software is free" is the classic "sounds too good to be true" offer that will usually be regarded with extreme suspicion - and as soon as you say just one thing that makes your prospect suspicious of you, that's it. You've lost their trust and you won't get it back again. If you've ever watched Dragons' Den (I believe the US equivalent is called "Shark Tank"), you'll have seen exactly this happen.

    The second problem is the "you'd have to pay for consulting" bit. The IT consulting industry doesn't exactly have a spotless reputation; anyone who's been in industry for any length of time can tell you all about the consultant they brought in at great expense who over-promised and under-delivered. At least with a COTS package there's the possibility of being able to evaluate it for some time before going ahead, that's greatly reduced when you're paying for one-off work.

    • Also you must factor in the business-aware factor. People who ultimately make the buy decision are not usually that tech-savvy and like to see products from a "business perspective". They like to hear about their business terminology, the keywords they are familiar with. You can argue in favor or against this but it is a reality. Open source software (and its enthusiasts) usually come with three main arguments: (1) cost, (2) quality and (3) evolution/maintenance. I've seen these arguments failing routinely.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        And gaining confidence is an art which big companies are very good at.

        It's more than that. I missed it in my original comment, but a lot of people perceive a product has a value broadly equivalent to the amount it's being sold at. (This is part of the reason Apple are able to sell the iPad for a relatively high price yet nobody else can sell a clone for anything like that price. Apple have a reputation of selling a premium product which no other consumer technology firm can really claim - therefore when Apple say "an iPad is worth £400" it follows that a clone product i

    • by westlake (615356)

      First up: Any government department that's got a significant investment in IT can't just go out and replace, say, Microsoft Office with LibreOffice overnight.

      Microsoft treats MS Office as one component of an integrated office system that scales to an enterprise of any size.

      Client-Server-Web applications. Tools for deployment. Tools for management.

      Strong third-party support. Tutorials and resources of every kind. Training and staff available everywhere south of the Artic Circle.

      While LibreOffice is fundamentally nothing more than an immature, stand-alone, office suite recently forked from OpenOffice.org.

      • by jimicus (737525)

        This is an extremely good point - Sharepoint is fairly obviously the future, and I imagine in a few years many companies won't even run a vanilla SMB fileserver. Which should be just in time for Samba 4 to come out.

    • by Phrogman (80473)

      The biggest obstacle I have seen is that the people employed currently who are using MS products, know those products ONLY. They don't have any interest in learning any new product unless they are forced to. I don't know how many secretaries I have met in the past who thought their "operating system" was either Internet Explorer or Microsoft Office. They were wizzes with Office, but when they started their computer up the only thing they did was start up Word or whatever other Office program they needed. Th

  • From reading the article, these are large contracts for large systems. While the UK might want to favor open source (which I doubt, but that is a different post), the companies bidding on the projects are pitching existing systems that are then modified. Raytheon, one of the bidders mentioned several times in the article probably doesn't have an open source alternative. Likewise for the other bidders.

    So, even if the UK were wanting to encourage open source, if the major players don't offer any alternativ

    • by biodata (1981610)
      Stop outsourcing and hire a decent architect, some skilled engineers, and some testers would be a good start, but for all the wrong reasons we know that will never happen. Noone wants the hired help getting comfy pensions any more, better to give all the public money to people who will give decent kickbacks as discussed above.
      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        Stop outsourcing and hire a decent architect, some skilled engineers, and some testers would be a good start, but for all the wrong reasons we know that will never happen. Noone wants the hired help getting comfy pensions any more, better to give all the public money to people who will give decent kickbacks as discussed above.

        You are right. When I worked for a government agency in the USA, we would hire "consultants" to develop new systems, very often even paying to train their employees in the technologies to be used, while our employees would be relegated to maintenance work. Then, when the project was done, our employees had to take over the new system, very often without adequate training.

        I would always propose that we should hire consultants to do the maintenance work and pay to train our employees on the new technologies

  • The numbers contain for example HAYS IT. I guess its refereing to http://www.hays.co.uk/ [hays.co.uk] which do not sell any license only services. So they have hired some consultants from that company for doing whatever their job was. But they spend no money on licenses. I guess they still would need those people no matter if its Open Source Software or not.
  • FOSS developers don't pay kickbacks. It's as simple as that.
  • ...and frankly, I'm suprised that this is being talked about - I would have thought the press would have taken the Gov. to task for suggesting this a year ago, not complain now that (surprise suprise) it's not happening.

    Why would the gov. go open source?

    Just one example from the article -

    >rather than seeking cheaper open source alternatives.

    Which instantly exposes the issue of cost. Cheaper how? Do you really think the cost savings on a country-wide MS license are going to cover the years of contracts yo

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      A country-wide license will still cost a huge amount of money, whereas any development work has to be done once regardless of how many end users will use it.

      Many systems are never "combined", there are hundreds of disparate systems out there already. That said, systems based on open standards with source code availability would actually be easier to connect together.

      Also, paying local engineers to develop open source (that can be used across all government) is actually much better than paying money to a for

      • by Eskarel (565631)

        Except that it doesn't just have to be done once, it has to be done once, and then it has to be maintained, and supported, and migrated to and tested with the new OS version. If it's a modification to an existing open source program then it has to be maintained and potentially rewritten from scratch every time there's any changes to the parts of the original program that they modified.

        People who think that software is a one time sunk cost haven't ever written any.

  • Is the OP suggesting that one or more politicans may have lied? That's unprecedented! I supposed next he'd have us believe that beer drinkers belch or that the whole notion of royalty is sadly dated and rather silly. ;-P
  • It's simple. They shouldn't favor one over the other sight unseen. Hopefully (but not likely) they'd be considering all options equally and choosing the right tool for the job. Open-source won't always be the right tool.
  • Another of the reasons is the various government approval schemes like CAPS, EAL and FIPS... If your software is not approved, then it's not allowed to be used in certain government projects.
    Now these approval schemes are utterly ridiculous for so many reasons...

    Getting your product on these schemes is expensive, which means that only large vendors can afford to apply, and even those won't bother to certify all versions of their products.
    The approval process is slow (plus not all versions are submitted for

  • Government says it will do one thing and then does the opposite!

White dwarf seeks red giant for binary relationship.

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