Government urged to open source

The government has been urged to reduce cost and risk by migrating its IT systems to open source as part of its £3.2 billion cost-cutting drive.

Earlier this week, the government unveiled an ambitious new ICT strategy in a bid to slash its annual IT costs by around a third with the aim of creating a leaner, meaner and greener public sector infrastructure.

The move was welcomed by open saucers, including Talend boss Bertrand Diard who said it was vital the government's policy on IT spend undergo a radical change.

“Having spent £108 billion on ICT in just eight years, it is clear that the UK government needs to assess its current spending activity,” he said.

“It is no longer acceptable for the UK government to continue spending such huge volumes of money on poor ICT, when there are cost effective and adequate alternatives such as open source solutions.”

Open source gained some ground in 2009 when the government recognised its importance for reducing public sector IT spend and introduced a plan to drive the adoption of open source tools.

But, despite its best intentions, the government was “still wedded to the ICT solutions of the past,” Bertrand said.

“The government is still resistant to open source tools despite its stated aim to adopt open source,” he said, insisting that open source products were put through greater testing than proprietary-based before being released.

One of the major benefits of open source software lies in the fact the code is constantly being developed and improved by its community of users, he said, meaning it can quickly be adapted to meet evolving business needs – unlike proprietary software, which can become dated within a matter of months.

The fact that open source can integrate with legacy systems also reduces risk as companies no longer need to spend massive amounts on replacing major systems that may only be required in the short-term.

"The next few years will prove valuable in determining whether (the government) take this opportunity or not,” Bertrant said.