Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Open Source For America

In an interesting entry about open source software adoption, the announcement of the OSFA (Open Source For America) is discussed. So what exactly is the OSFA? The OSFA is a group of organizations who have invested heavily in open source technologies. The reason this group has formed is to promote the use of open source technology in the US federal government. This is simply a fantastic idea and a landmark in open source history. One may ask why a group of organizations is necessary to help a government adopt open source technology. The answer is that open source is relatively new. There aren't many professionals employed by the US government. The organizations that form the OSFA, however, have plenty of expertise in regards to open source. The US government is concerned with running a country, not choosing which software is best suited for the job.

The benefits of using open source technology apply to the government just as they would to any other organization or individual. That is, any government that chooses open source technology over the proprietary alternative gets treated just as though they are a regular user. There isn't any real discrimination in the open source world with who uses what.

The primary motivation for the US government is to cut costs. They savings are obviously in the fact that there aren't any license fees to pay with open source. However, they also gain everything else that comes with open source including generally better software. Additionally, there are hidden cost savings that generally occur on a per deployment basis.

The Canadian government seems to be falling behind in the information technology department. They certainly need to show more interest in advancing their infrastructure which can be achieved through open source. The OSFA serves as a good example of the next step that should be taken.