Q: Why is open source good for government?
A: There are six key reasons why governments are moving to open source. They include:
- Security. Open source is statistically shown to increase security in most implementations. This is particularly relevant for intelligence agencies that focus on security.
- Procurement time. Government procurements can take up to three years. By moving to open source, agencies can download and deploy software immediately and then go through procurement for support rather than acquisition.
- No vendor lock-in or lock-out. Because open source is in the public domain, support is available from multiple vendors. For Solaris, users can get support from HP, Dell, IBM, Sun, Intel, AMD, and a host of others.The same goes for Linux and other open source environments. Additionally, because the APIs are open sourced, they're easier to reverse-engineer to avoid lockout.
- Reduced cost. Open source support contracts are usually significantly less expensive than proprietary contracts because there is competition. That's not the case when the code isn't publicly available. We often say that open source gives 90% of the functionality at 10% of the cost. This results in billions of dollars of savings for governments.
- Increased quality. There are fewer patch releases with open source, in part because open source code goes through more reviews. During the release process, the code is reviewed by the community, which can be ruthless in its scrutiny. The code then goes through integration review, indemnification review if supported by a vendor, and quality control. That adds up to three times more quality controls than most proprietary products.
- Collaborative environment. By engaging with open source, governments can inject unique requirements into the community without having to go through a vendor. This is a huge boon for governments because in the past, vendors often couldn't justify doing unique requirements for a limited number of government seats.