SOUTH AFRICA’S GOVERNMENT has made substantial progress in the move towards adopting open source technology over the past 18 months. That’s according to Sun Microsystems Europe, Middle East and Africa chairman Crawford Beveridge.
He says 18 months ago Government departments were still trying to get their heads around open source issues but are currently making concrete plans to adopt key open source technologies as the foundation of their strategy into the future. “SA is ahead of Europe and North America when it comes to the adoption of open source technology but behind countries such as Brazil, where president Lula da Silva has led the charge to transform the technology the country’s government uses.”
Beveridge says while many people think only of the Linux operating system when they talk about open source software, its scope is much deeper than that. The ambit of open source extends from the open document format ODF – that describes exactly how information is stored and formatted – to applications such as OpenOffice (a competitor of Microsoft Office) to the desktop and server versions of the Linux operating system, to name but a few.
Another misconception surrounding the technology is that it’s free. And while most of it doesn’t have licence fees attached to it, users pay for the application’s service and support. That’s why it’s gaining popularity with developing countries, because it encourages the development of indigenous technology companies.
Though one of the problems is that due to the diverse nature of the open source industry it’s hard to put an exact value on it, Beveridge admits that’s something that needs to be determined.