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The European Commission quietly endorses open source softwareMatthew Aslett, March 14, 2008 @ 5:49 am ET
As Glyn Moody notes, the European Commission has very quietly announced a change in its position on open source software, confirming earlier reports that it is to favor the use of open source software.
The new strategy document (which was actually adopted in February 2007 but has only just been published) states: “For all new development, where deployment and usage is foreseen by parties outside of the Commission infrastructure, Open Source Software will be the preferred development and deployment platform.”
The Commission has previously gone out of its way to position itself as neutral when it comes to favoring one business model over another, which probably explains why the announcement was so low-key. Aside from the pro-open source statement above, the other three core policy statements are indeed more even-handed:
“The Commission services use OSS where a clear benefit can be expected.
“The Commission will consider OSS solutions the same way as proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a ‘value for money’ basis. Not only licence costs ,but also setup, maintenance, support and training costs must be considered.
“For all future IT developments and procurement procedures, the Commission shall promote the use of products that support open, well-documented standards. Interoperability is a critical issue for the Commission, and usage of well-established open standards is a key factor to achieve and endorse it.”
What appears to be changing in terms of the Commission’s position on open source is a wider recognition that promoting the use of open source software can be a means of promoting the European software and services industries. Back in November 2007 Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for information and society called on Europe to build on its community of open source developers with a European Strategy for Software.
The new strategy document also outlines some steps that the Commission intends to take “in order in to create a true professional environment supporting the use of OSS”:
“The Commission will clarify the legal framework around the internal use of OSS. Main topics to be addressed are: licensing schemes, equal opportunities in the context of procurement and participation in OSS communities.
“Governance is essential to management of ICT; this applies to OSS as well as to any ICT asset. The current evolution of concentrating on solutions instead of on products will apply to OSS as well. The Commission will develop guidelines and best practices allowing the setup of OSS and mixed solutions covering the full set of needed professional services, including scalability, reliability, manageability, security, support and training and the deployment of OSS solutions in the Commission’s data centre.
“The Commission will further adopt and implement the best practices and proven tools from the OSS communities’ development collaborative process.
“OSS plays an important role in e-Government projects and interoperability in the broader sense. Now that DIGIT has taken over the responsibility for the IDABC programme, this scope of activities as well as the coordination of the internal and external OSS strategies will be reinforced.”
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