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Ordnance Survey – embracing the open-source opportunity Ian James Information Systems Chief Architect, Ordnance Survey 5 th September 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Ordnance Survey – embracing the open-source opportunity Ian James Information Systems Chief Architect, Ordnance Survey 5 th September 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ordnance Survey – embracing the open-source opportunity Ian James Information Systems Chief Architect, Ordnance Survey 5 th September 2012

2 Contents Some context – who / what is Ordnance Survey A very brief history of Ordnance Survey GI Production IT A brief history of open source at Ordnance Survey What we are doing with open source GI Our drivers for the adoption of open source Open source first policy Why were not using open source Some lessons weve learnt… …and some benefits weve found

3 Ordnance Survey – a technology organisation Founded 1791, military roots, national mapping agency, national remit Public sector with a commercial mandate Technology has always been both a tool and an enabler for change Surveying Cartography Printing IT

4 Production IT and software at Ordnance Survey Initial experiments using IT to support map making started in late 1960s First digital product made available in 1971 (1:125,000 coastline) Increasing ramping up of digitisation (1970s – 1990s) Move from automating map production to digital data (1990s onwards) In the early years much of the GI software we used was bespoke Over time increasing use made of proprietary off-the-shelf software products (as capability aligned with our needs) In the last 10 years, open-source options have developed and matured (as capability has improved)

5 A short history of open source at Ordnance Survey Apache, Tomcat, J2EE & MySQL for initial web systems Linux operating system for web- facing applications Linux operating system for internal production systems Using Open Layers for OS OpenSpace PostGIS, GeoNetwork, GeoServer, INSPIRE PostGIS, Web Services Consolidation 2002 2012 2004200620082010

6 So where is OS using open source GI? OS OnDemand Commercial OGC Web Map Service WMS and WMTS-like Implemented using GeoServer / PostGIS / Astun Loader

7 So where is OS using open source GI? OS OpenSpace / OpenSpace Pro API for embedding OS mapping in web sites Implemented using OpenLayers / MySQL

8 So where is OS using open source GI? UK Location / INSPIRE / Mapping search and preview tools in Catalogue publishing services to EU Conformant open-source WMS OpenLayers / GeoServer / MySQL / GeoNetwork

9 So where is OS using open source GI? Public Sector Asset Demonstrator Collaborative (with CLG) demonstrator identifying public sector property assets OpenLayers / GeoServer / MySQL

10 So where is OS using open source GI? Some common factors in these implementations: Outward facing (public or customer) applications / services Read-only applications (periodic updates) Hosted on a cloud platform (currently Amazon)

11 How did we get here? Initial adoption of open source was not planned: More of an organic process with roots in various research / low-key / off-piste developments Adopted in these areas primarily for expedient reasons – cost / ease of getting started / below the corporate IT radar Previously we have shied away from open source for production services (particularly paid-for services) But… Functionality the products were becoming capable We were increasingly comfortable with the open source culture and support options

12 Why open source GI? Why now? Allowed cost-effective cloud-based deployment: traditional licensing models dont work costs of commercial products quickly become prohibitive Cost savings (but its not free) The software products (in the areas we are using them) are : mature enough functional enough supported There is a government mandate to do this…

13 UK Government Policy Government ICT Strategy Where appropriate, government will procure open source solutions Government ICT Strategy - Strategic Implementation Plan For all relevant software procurements across government, open source solutions will be considered fairly against proprietary solutions based on value for money (VFM) and total cost of ownership Open Source, Open Standards and ReUse: Government Action Plan The Government will actively and fairly consider open source solutions alongside proprietary ones in making procurement decisions Where there is no significant overall cost difference between open and non-open source products, open source will be selected on the basis of its additional inherent flexibility

14 Part of a bigger [open] picture for OS …Source …Standards …Data …Access

15 Open source First Based on our experiences to date, we are now adopting an open source first policy for new software When looking for new software we will evaluate open source packages ahead of proprietary ones We will adopt an open source solution if: The licence is suitable for our needs The project is well supported with a lively and responsive user base The documentation is good We have the appropriate skills in-house or training is readily available We can support it (or we can buy support) It works equally well as available proprietary software. If not, we will go through standard procurement processes

16 Giving something back Contributing to open source developments: Small features and bug-fixing to GeoNetwork Paid for INSPIRE-conformance work on GeoServer A proposed performance improvement to GeoServer We want to do more of this: Self-interest – we want to ensure the product continues to develop and support what we and others want to do with it Altruism – there is a moral imperative to contribute in-kind for something were getting for free Ultimately we have to balance making a contribution with the pressures of delivering business-focussed projects

17 But open source isnt everything We have a large investment (skills / licences / development) in proprietary technologies that sustain the business… …were not going to throw that away overnight We dont – yet – have confidence that open source solutions can always provide… …enterprise-class reliability and scalability …some of the niche capability that we require So for the foreseeable future it will be a mixed economy But open source will have an increasing role for us

18 Some things we have learned… Start with little, interesting projects. Dont dive in head-first with a big open-source strategy. Try stuff out. Open source benefits from a more dynamic, proactive, inquisitive developer Skills need to be broadened – both technical (development and support) but also requires a cultural / mindset shift as well Open source is free …is a myth Need to be rigorous about licences Just because its open source doesnt mean you dont have support… …its just the model is different and can require more effort …(or else you can buy it if that is what you need)

19 …and some welcome benefits (not all of which we anticipated)… Open source allowed us to deliver. Doubtful whether we would have been able to do so through more traditional routes (cost and complexity barriers – e.g. software licensing) Helped us to understand customers use of our data with these tools (increasing uptake of open source amongst customers) Has enabled us to become a reference site for open source implementations (e.g. GeoServer for INSPIRE), particularly within UK public sector and with other NMAs


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