A new research study explores open sourcing, which covers any program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit.
Results of the “Federal Open Source Referendum” study were recently released by the Federal Open Source Alliance, an organization that includes representatives from Hewlett-Packard Corp., Intel Corp. and Red Hat Inc. Goals of the Alliance are to educate the federal information technology (IT) community about the current status, challenges and benefits of open-source implementation.
The study is said to be the first annual report designed to identify current open-source adoption rates and trends in the federal government.
Findings were based on an online survey of 218 federal civilian, Department of Defense and intelligence agency decision-makers involved with IT implementation.
Interestingly, the study revealed that those who do implement open source (the “have” group) have very different perceptions from those who do not deploy open source (the “have not” group).
Security issues differed among the two groups. For instance, the “have” group identified advanced security as the biggest benefit of open source, while the “have not” group cited security issues as top challenges of open sourcing.
The “have” group also identified other key open-source benefits, including data center consolidation, the ability to customize applications and the ability to facilitate cross-system or cross-agency information sharing. Only 9 percent of federal respondents implementing open source cited cost savings as the primary benefit.
The study reveals that open source is gathering broad-based support and an impressive record for success in the federal market.
Although federal IT decision-makers are upbeat about the benefits of open source, they cite organizational and technological obstacles that hinder implementation. Keys to success include educating key stakeholders about the goals and benefits of open-source migration initiatives, as well as establishing structured technical support for users, prior to embarking on the migration.
“The study shows that open source is both a mainstream issue and a polarizing factor in federal IT,” said Nigel Ballard, government marketing manager, Intel Americas. “Agencies that have already implemented [open source] are reaping the benefits today, but it isn’t harvest time for everyone. The perception divide between open source ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ means that the Federal Open Source Alliance has work to do. We plan to focus on empowering those who have implemented [the technology] to connect with those who have not, to share experiences, collaborate and exchange best practices.”
The study will be conducted on an annual basis by the Federal Open Source Alliance, which also sponsors various education and outreach activities to assist federal decision-makers with data-center consolidation and migration issues.
To download the complete study, visit http://www.federalopensourcealliance.com/.