Category Archives: Resources

Resources

Open for Business 2016

Open for Business 2016 logoOpenUK is the co-host and sponsor with the BCS Open Source Specialist Group of the annual Open for Business conference.  This is our annual festival of open source in the business environment which takes place on Monday 5th September in Hebden Bridge.

This year we are focusing on how to bring open source into your business,  looking at how to make money using open source, how to manage open source procurement and how to handle legal and licensing issues.  But most of our speakers are an international group of senior executives, with huge real work experience of success  with open source in their own business.

Highlights include

  • A keynote from Mike Little, co-founder of WordPress, which now powers 26% of the Web.
  • Maarten Ectors, VP for IoT at Canonical presenting on making money with open source.
  • Matija Suklje, lawyer and FOSS legal specialist who spent 5 years heading up the FSFE Legal Network (global FOSS legal network and Chatham House Rule list, which also publishes the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review journal

and our very own Stuart Mackintosh, Founder of OpusVL and chair of Open UK.

This year, over an extended lunch break, our speakers are offering “surgery” sessions. An opportunity to seek free advice one-to-one with leading practitioners.  In the evening you are invited to join speakers and other attendees for an informal dinner in a local pub.

Open for Business is just one part of the 10-day long Wuthering Bytes festival, a 10-day celebration of open source technology in the heart of the UK’s “Northern Powerhouse”.  There are many more meetings of interest to OpenUK members, from workshops on open source hardware through to open smart cities to the global meetings of the LLVM and GNU Tools Cauldrons.

Full details of Open for Business 2016 are here, with free registration through EventBrite here.  We look forward to seeing you in Hebden Bridge next month.

Review of global Open Source policy across the public sector

The UK has benefited from the 2012 Open Standards policy which was formally reviewed in 2015, and the guidance toward selecting Open Source, as described in the official UK government IT strategy, which states “where appropriate Open Source solutions and Open Standards will be considered”. However this document is becoming outdated, as the development and use of Open Source rises, and policy needs to evolve in order to keep up with action already being taken by many organisations within the public sector.

USA

Compare this to the progressive strategy outlined by the current White House Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, a strong advocate of Open Source, who believes that technological innovation is built through collective knowledge and collaboration.

Scott’s department has released a draft Federal source code policy for public consultation by 18th April 2016 and are encouraging the wider community to provide comment. This draft requires that all custom code purchased by the Federal Government to be made available across Federal Agencies, but for now, only limited obligation to be released as Open Source software to the community.

President Obama seeks technological progress and there is a view that investing in openness will address this. The White House describe the Open Data aspirations, API’s and contributions to Open Source on their developers pages.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is maintained by the US Department of Defence which aims to address the common issues that arise during selection and procurement which is generally also of benefit to non-US administrations.

India

A similar picture is emerging in other countries including India who encourage the use of Open Source over proprietary software.

Europe

Across Europe, many policies and guidance have been issued over recent years.

The French Prime Minister recommended that agencies return between 5% and 10% of savings made from the use of Open Source opposed to proprietary back to the communities as part of it’s Open Source drive.

Basque Country issued a decree in 2012 and was one of the first EU states to issue such a strong statement.

Initial Italian publications in 2012 lead to the development of criteria and guidelines in 2013 promoting importing of Open Source and the re-export of the software to other departments.

Although this is very positive progress, these policy developments focus on the importing of Open Source, with some limited obligation to share amongst other departments.

Bulgaria has lead the way with an all-round Open Source policy. Following the introduction of mandatory evaluation of Open Source solutions for government tenders in 2015, the government proposed a repository of Open Source applications which will be mirrored with Github, therefore enabling developers and other departments to interact, acquire and feed back to the software assets. The policy is currently under review in parliament and is anticipated to successfully pass in the near future.

Poland released their policy in 2016 which describes their aspiration to become an all-round Open Source government and this encompasses Open Data in addition to the software assets.

A review of EU policies and analysis of the response of 10 EU regions can be found in a 2013 document which presents the position of sharing and re-use of digital assets. A full report is available detailing the position of 30 EU nations.

Local government and departments

Such a policy applied to central government does not directly ensure that the public sector as a whole must comply. Local government, states and departments generally require their own policy to enforce such activity. A statement by USA digital working group 18F propose that their policy is extended to states and local government as described here. However the policy is likely to encourage generation of relevant Open Source software within the sector that other departments benefit from so we can expect it to be influential.

What next?

The importation of Open Source into government software projects does not ensure a two-way ecosystem, therefore failing to engage and stimulate the Open Source business, community and the benefits this may otherwise bring. Procurement and supply chain issues still need to be addressed in order to further evolve policies to reflect the needs and challenges of organisations within the public sector

At the time of writing, Open Forum Europe are working with other organisations to research the business use of Open Source across Europe. It is anticipated that this will bring more clarity to the positions of the nations outlined here as well as the first objective study of business impact of Open Source.

There is no argument that a purchaser of software and services would welcome solutions that ensured the freedoms identified by the Free Software Foundation. This has been considered a utopia and unachievable in the course of contemporary business. With the significant progress this decade toward Open Source policy, and leading nations experimenting with the all-round approach, it is now becoming more widely accepted that these freedoms will become a common expectation when acquiring software.

Royalty Free Open Standards – a report

An OSC paper explaining why royalty free open standards are essential for reducing public sector ICT expenditure and illustrating the vital role that public sector ICT could play as a source of innovation and growth in the economy.

Growth, innovation and creation have come about largely through the ability to interact easily with minimal transaction costs, delivered by using royalty free open standards.

This is not the case with online public services. If these services ever were avoidable, now they are being promoted or imposed upon the user. Unlike the Internet or the web, online public services constrain the user regarding their choice of software through the use of proprietary software standards.

When the public sector does not adopt royalty free open standards for software:

  • the public sector is less able to reduce its dependence on a small group of suppliers (an “oligopoly” with all the attendant risks)
  • users of online public services are constrained in their choice of software
  • users of online public services become locked in to a small group of suppliers
  • online services constrain innovation and growth in the knowledge economy

We have published a report on the wider importance of royalty free open standards and you can download it here (65 pages, pdf, approx 1.8MByte).