Open Source software
The Socitm Open Source Software Group (SOSS) was established in mid 2003 with the objective of promoting the use of open source software in the public sector.
OSS is much more significant in the IT industry than many managers realise - most embedded devices are OSS-based, the original Internet email system was mostly OSS-delivered and many large suppliers now support OSS platforms for enterprise-scale applications.
SOSS is not concerned with the "religious wars" between proprietary and OSS products, rather with how IT managers can use OSS successfully.
For many years the open source community have been championing the technical benefits of OSS and highlighting the reduced costs of obtaining such products. It is well known that OSS products can be acquired for less money than the proprietary equivalents but there are other factors to consider. When the adoption of OSS into mainstream business has been proposed the take-up has been disappointing and this has mainly been due to a lack of consideration of the business drivers that influence organisations. In particular, the adoption by the public sector has to address the issues of the use of public money and the democratic decision making process.
SOSS is considering how the business issues will be handled (total cost of ownership, support resources, future development etc) within the context of an open source framework. The opportunities exist to make a significant impact in the future use of ICT and the SOSS work programme is addressing this challenge.
Open Source Software Use within UK Government
In the revised policy for OSS, the Cabinet Office have mandated that OSS solutions be considered when procuring. However, when tenders are issued few, if any, OSS responses are received. SOSS, in conjunction with industry bodies (particularly the Open Source Consortium are working to ensure that OSS solutions can compete with proprietary solutions for our requirements.
SOSS's focus is very much on the business issues surrounding OSS. Examples of current work are:
- Ensuring suitable support arrangements and professional certification for OSS
- Addressing OSS technical issues and providing guidance on implementation
SOSS is also involved in the Intellectual Property Rights debate, as this issue will have a major impact on both OSS and in-house developments.
For more information on SOSS contact:
Chair: Steve Durbin
Secretary: Stephen Fellowes
External links (Socitm is not responsible for the content of external internet sites)
Cabinet Office open Source procurement advice:
Open Source Consortium