Thursday, October 25, 2007

Open Source Competency Centre

I just read this article in TheStar today and found things very confusing. Several years ago, there was a governmental policy in place, that prioritises the use of Open Source Software (OSS) over proprietary ones. It was spelled out very clearly in the master plan, which stated that procurement:

Should be based on merits, value for money, transparency, security and interoperability. In situations where advantages and disadvantages of OSS and proprietary software are equal, preference shall be given to OSS.
Then, in a shocking move, the government announced a turn-around in their policy from pro-OSS to technology neutral. They essentially took out the part of the policy, which states that when all things are equal, OSS should have priority. Quoting the article:
There has been a lot of negative reaction towards open source (from the IT market) and that's why (choosing) the technology platform should be neutral. If you believe that you can do more using the titanium parang, then use the titanium parang.
At that time, I wondered who would be stupid enough to suggest to the Government that OSS was a BadThing. The only people I could think of were lobbyist of large companies in the proprietary software business. OSS is good for everyone: consumers, developers, companies, governments and markets. This gyrating of policy made it seem like our government was just winging it and didn't know what it was doing at all. But they still didn't disband the OSCC. So, I wondered why. Now, they're gyrating back to pro-OSS again. From today's article:
Government agencies are encouraged to use these products to maximise returns on R&D investments on these solutions which have been packaged for ease of use. Product training is also provided at OSCC.
So, now it becomes clearer. Our government policy on procurement is technology neutral. This will keep everybody happy without having to take any sides. However, our government's internal technology development programme is pro-OSS. They're adapting various OSS software for adoption. They seem to be identifying certain key areas where they will adopt OSS software and these seem to be in the back-office areas.

So, there. Confusion solved! For now, it's at least a step in the right direction. Sooner or later, OSS will conquer the world.

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