UK unveils Open Source policy, may make it ‘default’ option

Good lord. Bill'll be over in a minute...


The UK government yesterday announced its policy on Open Source software, and as far as we can figure out, it seems to be cautiously pro. In answer to a parliamentary question (and we strongly suspect 'plant' here), Home Office minister Douglas Alexander said: "I am pleased to announce new policy on the use of Open Source Software within UK Government. It explains how we will consider Open Source Software solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements and award contracts on a value for money basis, seeking to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services."

The policy itself is somewhat brief, and hilariously miscommunicated by the Office of Government Commerce here, where at time of writing it said "Open Source Software Policy Document (Microsoft Word format 376 KB)," and proceeded to give you some unintelligible .asp file if you actually tried to download it. But you can get it in Word, PDF or RTF format at the home of the much-reviled e-envoy here, and we're sure the OGC will have its act together RSN.

But anyway, what does it say? Open Source software "has leapt to prominence by starting to take a significant market share in some specific parts of the software infrastructure market," it cautiously begins, then revs up. "OSS is indeed the start of a fundamental change in the software infrastructure marketplace, but it is not a hype bubble that will burst and UK Government must take cognisance of that fact."

Then it tells us why the UK has devised a policy: "The European Commission’s initiative eEurope - An Information Society for all is supported by an Action Plan dated June 2000. One entry within the plan addresses the topic of Open Source Software (OSS) and sets the target that:

'during 2001 the European Commission and Member States will promote the use of open source software in the public sector and e-government best practice through exchange of experiences across the Union (through the IST and IDA programmes).'

[we couldn't help noticing a piece of MS Brainiac ASCII in that - don't worry, we killed it for you]

"The UK’s response to this action to date has been through mandating open standards and specifications in its e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) and allowing market driven products to support these. It is now considered necessary to have a more explicit policy on the use of OSS within UK Government and this document details that policy."

So, the policy has been devised at the behest of Europe, and commences with something of a justification of what we've been up to so far. The intro is actually substantially longer than the policy itself, but the latter is potentially dynamite (and we think we killed some more MS ASCII here):

"- UK Government will consider OSS solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a value for money basis.
- UK Government will only use products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments.
- UK Government will seek to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services.
- UK Government will consider obtaining full rights to bespoke software code or customisations of COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) software it procures wherever this achieves best value for money.
- UK Government will explore further the possibilities of using OSS as the default exploitation route for Government funded R&D software."

The first two point are of little importance - they're just checkmarks and can mean as little or as much as the specifiers want them to. Avoidance of lock-in, though, is interesting, while the notion of obtaining full rights to COTS software is slap-bang in the territory of EU policy on pooling software across administrations. And that last one? OSS as the default? We may be getting somewhere here, friends. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise adds Wi-Fi 6E to 'premium' access points
    Company claims standard will improve performance in dense environments

    Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is the latest networking outfit to add Wi-Fi 6E capability to its hardware, opening up access to the less congested 6GHz spectrum for business users.

    The France-based company just revealed the OmniAccess Stellar 14xx series of wireless access points, which are set for availability from this September. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise said its first Wi-Fi 6E device will be a high-end "premium" Access Point and will be followed by a mid-range product by the end of the year.

    Wi-Fi 6E is compatible with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, but adds the ability to use channels in the 6GHz portion of the spectrum, a feature that will be built into the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 standard from the start. This enables users to reduce network contention, or so the argument goes, as the 6GHz portion of the spectrum is less congested with other traffic than the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies used for Wi-Fi access.

    Continue reading
  • Will Lenovo ever think beyond hardware?
    Then again, why develop your own software à la HPE GreenLake when you can use someone else's?

    Analysis Lenovo fancies its TruScale anything-as-a-service (XaaS) platform as a more flexible competitor to HPE GreenLake or Dell Apex. Unlike its rivals, Lenovo doesn't believe it needs to mimic all aspects of the cloud to be successful.

    While subscription services are nothing new for Lenovo, the company only recently consolidated its offerings into a unified XaaS service called TruScale.

    On the surface TruScale ticks most of the XaaS boxes — cloud-like consumption model, subscription pricing — and it works just like you'd expect. Sign up for a certain amount of compute capacity and a short time later a rack full of pre-plumbed compute, storage, and network boxes are delivered to your place of choosing, whether that's a private datacenter, colo, or edge location.

    Continue reading
  • Intel is running rings around AMD and Arm at the edge
    What will it take to loosen the x86 giant's edge stranglehold?

    Analysis Supermicro launched a wave of edge appliances using Intel's newly refreshed Xeon-D processors last week. The launch itself was nothing to write home about, but a thought occurred: with all the hype surrounding the outer reaches of computing that we call the edge, you'd think there would be more competition from chipmakers in this arena.

    So where are all the AMD and Arm-based edge appliances?

    A glance through the catalogs of the major OEMs – Dell, HPE, Lenovo, Inspur, Supermicro – returned plenty of results for AMD servers, but few, if any, validated for edge deployments. In fact, Supermicro was the only one of the five vendors that even offered an AMD-based edge appliance – which used an ageing Epyc processor. Hardly a great showing from AMD. Meanwhile, just one appliance from Inspur used an Arm-based chip from Nvidia.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022