Open Source for Government Alexander C. Pitzner Sr. Network Engineer Harrisburg University of Science and Technology email@example.com
Agenda What is Open Source and why does it matter? Potential. Applications and Examples. Risks and Recommendations. Transition to John Punzak.
What is Open Source? Not to be confused with Freeware or Shareware Freeware: Software which can be downloaded, used and copied without restrictions. Shareware: Software distributed for free, often on a trial basis in which the user may need to pay for it later. Open Source: Software is free to use and modify to users and developers. “The Open Source Definition is a bill of rights for the computer user.” Source: Bruce Perens
Open Source Bill of Rights 1. Free Redistribution 2. Source Code 3. Derived Works 4. Integrity of The Author’s Source Code 5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups 6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor 7. Distribution of License 8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product 9. License Must Not Contaminate Other Software 10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral Source: http://www.opensource.org/osd.html
Why Open Source Matters Open Source software doesn’t suffer from the security, support and EOL problems that Freeware & Shareware products do. “A collaborative open source community ensures the viability of commercial vendors built around it.” “A truly open community protects users from vendor decisions.” Source: Bernard Golden “The Difference between Friend and Faux Open Source”
Potential for Government Decrease IT costs by eliminating or reducing software licensing expenses, maintenance and support costs. Self-determination on the development, fit and function of software. Prevent vendor “lock-in” by leveraging the ability to use commercial products and maintaining compatibility with custom applications. Embracing file and format standards to enable information & application sharing between government entities. Open document formats ensure future accessibility of archived data.
Collaboration is key Companies who work with other organizations gain more from open source than internally focused companies, who see only cost savings. Various agencies can share what works without licensing issues. Open file formats and standardization promote easier integration between agencies and departments.
Applications / Examples Client applications: OpenOffice, a substitute for Microsoft Office (http://openoffice.org)http://openoffice.org Operating Systems: There are open source operating systems alternatives for both clients and servers. You can even transform almost any PC to a Thin client by booting to an OS directly from the network, extending the life of PC hardware (http://thinstation.org).http://thinstation.org Server applications: Email, Web server, databases, ERP & CRM, firewall, proxy servers, SAN, IDS/IPS, etc. Essentially, if you can think of an application there is an open source alternative. Fairly comprehensive list of open source packages at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open_source_software_packages Harrisburg University uses open source for: Course Management System (Moodle) Network Monitoring (Nagios, Cacti & Groundwork)
Risks of Open Source Many Open Source solutions are NOT turn key and require more time to properly plan and implement. Successful integrations depends on higher technical savvy of staff. The absence of software licensing fees needs to be offset along with the costs of training, support and maintenance. “Most open-source projects have a large corps of developers, Internet mailing lists, archives and support databases all available at no cost. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that there’s no single source of information. "A simple question may result in multiple, conflicting answers with no authoritative source," Source: Gary Hein Indemnification: implications of using code to which you can’t verify the right to use. *SCO vs. IBM lawsuit in 2003*
Recommendations Determine true benefit of an Open Source solution by incorporating all cost factors (ease of implementation, training, support and maintenance). If implementing yourself, start with small, low impact solutions to warm up to potential open source complexities. Make knowledge transfer a priority within the IT organization. Try virtual appliances to evaluate open source products. Opt for a vendor solution based on open source. This deals with the accountability part of open source code.
What next? Technology doesn’t have value without people to determine the best fit and function within their organization. Who evaluates and determines open source value? Who integrates (in-house or external vendor)? Who plans for sustainability? Who assesses impact? Who supports and trains?