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Government Open Source United Kingdom Politics

UK Goverment IT Chief Backs Open Source Suppliers 72

Blacklaw writes "The UK government's deputy Chief Information Officer has outlined plans to hand public sector IT contracts over to small businesses and suppliers of open-source and cloud-based solutions in an attempt to balance the books. Speaking at the 360IT conference in London on Wednesday, Bill McCluggage also promised greater transparency over IT procurement, with tenders and contracts published online. Outlining a commitment to 'simplify, standardize and automate', McCluggage said the government would make it easier for open-source suppliers to compete for contracts, making the public sector less reliant on individual suppliers, or locked into proprietary systems."
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UK Goverment IT Chief Backs Open Source Suppliers

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  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @01:23AM (#33672354)

    The UK Government has announced that it will consider open-source software on an equal footing with proprietary commercial software when awarding multi-million-pound IT contracts.

    Why wouldn't you consider Open Source on equal footing with commercial software by default? It seems like a redundant statement.

    They very well might have been considering Open Source as an option since that announcement - the question is whether Open Source has ever actually made the the grade and been accepted as a better solution.

  • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @02:19AM (#33672528) Homepage Journal

    Does it really matter where the server is and who technically owns it if you have no control over your data and how it's processed? I have a commercial ERP product I have to deal with that requires it run on a $30000+ AIX box, can only be backed up using their expensive partner company, requires keeping an expensive support contract, and completely sucks but there is no easy way to switch products because there is no way to export all the data and no way to fix the program because the vendor obviously doesn't even know their own product and we don't have the source. It doesn't matter if it's on my server or in the cloud. The only real issue is that the company went with a non-opensource solution (there was no OSS solution at the time) and it's now a nightmare and it will be an even bigger nightmare when we reach e point where we have to switch.

    To be fair many OSS solutions would be nearly as big a hassle because they are so badly implemented. In theory you could get your data out and move to a different product but it'd be a serious chore. Bad source is almost as bad as no source.

  • Wrong target (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:51AM (#33672836)

    Whether it's open source or closed source isn't the most important thing. Whether it's run locally or in the cloud doesn't make that much difference.

    What really matters is whether the data is readily accessible in a known format. If you can get your data in some sane way that is independent of your current software, then you are in control. If you cannot, then you are not in control.

    Of course, going OSS and going cloud-based each have their pros and cons as well, but IMHO they are secondary to controlling the data. For example, while OSS theoretically implies being able to access your data in a known format, I would still rather use a closed source solution with a cleaner known data format than an OSS solution where the code that manipulates the file format is difficult to understand and the format itself is more awkward.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @05:25AM (#33673180) Homepage

    The primary focus is on awarding contracts to small businesses rather than a few behemoths. Whether they use open source or not does not really appear to be a consideration. And "open standards" will in practice just means "hide the actual data inside a pile of useless XML cruft and pass it around via SOAP".

    By the way, most customers for this kind of software would rather eat their own heads than have to deal with multiple vendors for different parts of an integrated national system.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @05:52AM (#33673308) Journal
    That depends on the cloud. For government IT, it might make sense to have a few large government-run datacentres that individual departments could buy time on, rather than having each project build its own separate infrastructure. The data and software would still be in the cloud, but the cloud would be in a bottle.
  • pullease, not BT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by niks42 ( 768188 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @11:10AM (#33675832)
    As long as they don't engage BT to deliver the g-Cloud. More than 40% of all of the funding for the NHS national program is sinking down that particular black hole, and wouldn't want to see any more KBEs being created on the back of providing overpriced services very slowly, and very, very poorly supported.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!