Open warfare

March 4, 2012

Two different but interesting pieces in the Computer Weekly of 28 February 2012 on the topic of ‘open’. The first is an opinion piece by Tony Roberts entitled ‘The problem with open data’ and the second by Mark Ballard on open standards. Tony Roberts states that open data as currently practiced is likely to increase the digital divide and that what is wanted is actionable open data, along with training on how to use it. I don’t think anyone can argue that the exercise in openness to-date has probably had little impact on the average citizen.

Mark Ballard examines the cleft stick facing the government having proposed that software using open standards should be preferred when procuring systems. One would have thought this would be quite an easy path to follow but the government has even been threatened with expulsion from the International Standards Organisation who thought their version of ‘proprietary’ was in jeopardy. The government has at least one Member with a vested interest in trade protection, and thus not entirely into open standards. Whilst the Coalition has launched a consultation to define open standards, there exists a body that I’ve already blogged about OASIS that has probably already done that (for the web and cloud anyway)but doesn’t get a mention in the article.

If, as reported, 70% of all software licences bought by the UK government are for Oracle something certainly needs to be done. One can move to Office Libre rather than Open Office to get away from Oracle on the desktop, but what does one do in the database market. Even in the local government market Oracle rules the roost, when as well as charging a lot constrains the use of virtualization platforms other than its own by its extortionate licensing model. Oracle does claim an interest in open standards with MySQL and other open source products, but developers need to be weaned off the costly commercial stuff.

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Transforming government

April 10, 2011

In the same month that the UK Government ICT Strategy is published another document that may help fill in some of the gaps appears. The report “Transformational Government Framework Primer Version 1.0” is authored by John Borras and published by OASIS. I’ve already reported on the value of OASIS.

Importantly, this report stresses that the world has moved on from the waste of e-government. It also emphasises the importance of the ‘citizen’, rather than the recent emphasis on the ‘customer’. It also recognises the failure of not proactively managing benefits from supposedly transformational projects. It also talks of engaging citizens directly when designing systems.

This primer usefully fills in some practical gaps in the ever-so slim Government ICT Strategy.


OASIS

October 31, 2010

Stumbling around the Internet, as I sometimes find myself doing, I fell into OASIS which describes itself as “an international, not-for-profit consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of open standards for the global information society”. More interestingly for this blogger they have an e-gov section!

One of the documents within the e-gov section is entitled “Avoiding the Pitfalls of eGovernment- 10 lessons learnt from eGovernment deployments“, which was only published in April 2010 and reads like the risk log of many projects I’ve been involved in, and so is potentially quite useful! Similarly there is a report on FLOSS, or open source software.

Whilst the coalition government appears to have gone cold over the topic of open source, a few of its protegés having published papers on the topic earlier, if we are to make revenue savings, these logically should be at the expense of many of the costly commercial products we currently use, for example content management systems, database applications and even desktop applications. I know the pros and cons, and the increased support and development requirement for open source, but if this was done centrally, by the private sector, or in large partnerships the issue may be resolved?

There have been numerous attempts to demonstrate the viability of such platforms, including APLAWS, but I don’t believe they’ve still made a sustainable push into the market, so now is perhaps a good time? In fact, a very good time!