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Open source champions of EuropeMatthew Aslett, June 30, 2008 @ 9:25 am ET
I’ve spent the past three weeks profiling open source policies and adoption projects at the 16 nations competing in EURO 2008. Congratulations are due to Spain, which deservedly won the football championship on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Germany.
Just for fun I thought I’d also declare a 2008 Tour of Europe Open Source Champion. In deciding the winner I decided to follow the same organizational structure as the football, so read on to find out which eight nations made it out of the group stages and how I whittled it down to an eventual champion.
If you disagree with any of my decisions feel free to add a comment explaining why, but remember: the referee’s decision is final. Although the football has finished, I’ll also be continuing the tour to take in some of the nations that did not qualify. So after a short break while I get my breath back, look out for further profiles in the weeks to come, including the UK, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Estonia.
It is a close call between three of the four nations in Group A, with Turkey bringing up the rear. However, with sporadic deployment projects already underway, good grassroots interest and government support for the Pardus project, Turkey is catching up and will pose a greater challenge in a few years. Switzerland, Czech Republic and Portugal are all more advanced with policies and/or projects in place. However, despite early successes the Czech Republic’s flow of open source projects does seem to have run dry and the recent deal with Microsoft is not going to help.
Portugal goes through as group winner with Switzerland runner up.
There was only ever going to be one winner from Group B but separating the other nations was not so easy. Poland shows a lot of promise but relatively few projects and a watered-down policy favouring open standards rather than open source. Austria and Croatia are hard to compare. Austria has established projects, but Croatia has the forward-looking policies. Ultimately though Vienna is more progressive in terms of open source adoption than Austria as a whole, and even that project has stumbled.
Germany goes through as group winner with Croatia runner up.
As was the case with the football, Group C saw three European heavyweights drawn together. Romania was always likely to suffer by comparison despite a lot of grassroots interest and emerging projects. Meanwhile Italy has been more progressive over the years but as Roberto Galoppini recently reported “is still missing a clear strategy about how to foster the Italian open source ecosystem through training, education, research and outreach”.
France goes through as group winner with The Netherlands runner up.
It also a close affair in Group D, at least between the top two. Greece was the rank outsider thanks to its private partnership agreement with Microsoft, and while Russia shows a lot of promise it is definitely one to watch, rather than a current challenger.
Spain goes through as group winner with Sweden runner up.
Portugal versus Croatia
A close one to call given Croatia’s commitment to open source as a means of reducing its dependency on suppliers, promote interoperability and match the EC’s position on open source. However, Portugal has the advantage of maturity enabling more projects to have got up and running. Croatia bows out with heads held high.
Germany versus Switzerland
A David versus Goliath match-up to be honest. Switzerland has one of the most forward-thinking open source software strategies and a number of significant national and regional projects, but nothing near the adoption levels seen in Germany.
France versus Sweden
Sweden can boast Programverket, a project to help the public sector adopt or convert to open source software, as well as a number of deployment projects, and of course MySQL, but ultimately pales in comparison to France.
Spain versus The Netherlands
A very close one to call, but ultimately while The Netherlands has seen a number of national and regional projects based on a policy of adoption of open standards in general and positive discrimination in favour of open source software, it cannot match up to the commitment to open source as an economic enabler seen in Spain. S
Portugal versus Germany
It could be said that the draw favoured Portugal somewhat in that it avoided some of the more significant adopters, but it more than meets its match in Germany. It would be interesting to see how different things might have been had a Portuguese bill that would have mandated the use of open source software in public administrations been approved in 2003, but that’s all ifs and buts. As it is the country’s significant adoption projects are focused on the education sector.
France versus Spain
A very, very difficult one to call. However the political structure in Spain eventually swings the decision in France’s favour. Despite significant adoption across its autonomous regions what Spain lacks, compared to France, is a cohesive national strategy driving adoption. For example, there are at least eight different Linux distribution projects funded by local governments. Recent policy changes suggest that the national government is catching up and if Spain can link together some of its regional projects and replicate Andalusia’s open source repository to reduce duplication of effort, it could be a force to be reckoned with.
Germany versus France
It’s the final that most open source industry watchers would probably have predicted, I guess. Germany and France have been the two heavyweights of open source adoption and promotion in Europe to date. In order to separate the two it’s necessary to take a closer look at the information we’ve been able to gather according to the categories of policy, national and regional projects, and vendor ecosystem.
Germany has been publicly committed to open source promotion since 2000 and in 2001 the Bundestag passed a resolution in to promote open source software in the federal administration, based on the principle that open source is a special opportunity for the European software industry. Several studies and guideline documents have followed, along with a key arrangement with IBM for discounts on Linux systems.
France considered but declined legal proposals to enforce/encourage the use of open source software in public administrations in 1999 and 2000. In 2001 ATICA took matters into its own hands with a decision to promote open source, which was followed by guidelines, recommendations, and practical guides. Recently an economic commission set up by France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy recommended that France should increase its use of open source software and consider tax benefits to stimulate open source development.
Score: Too close to call – 1-1
National deployment projects:
German federal projects include Federal the Federal Finance Office, the Bundestag, the German Aerospace Centre, the Foreign Office, Deutsche Bahn, the Employers’ Liability Insurance Association, the Monopolies Commission, German air traffic control and the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources.
French national projects include the Ministry of Equipment and Transport, the Ministry of Defense, the Family Allowance Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Tax Ministry, the Directorate General for the Modernisation of the State, the Ministry of Education, the Culture and Communication Ministry, the gendarmerie, and the National Assembly.
Score: Close again but 2-1 to France based on depth as well as breadth of adoption.
Regional deployment projects:
Munich is probably the most famous Linux deployment project in the world but Germany also boasts projects in Hall, Mannheim, North Rhine Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Heidenheim, Berlin, Treuchtlingen, Osterburg, Stuttgart, Frisia, Friesland, Freiburg, Nordrhein-Westfalen, and the German Alliance of Cities and Communes.
France also has a number of regional projects including Arles, Grand Nancy, Lille, Val d’Oise, Marseille, Brest, Grenoble, Lyon, and Rennes.
Score: Germany draws level – 2-2
Germany’s tradition as an open source adopter is no doubt due in part to its championing of SUSE Linux AG, now of course owned by Novell. Other German open source vendors, such as Open-Xchange and Collax, have also migrated to the US. While Credativ and Synerpy remain, Mindquarry came and went.
France has done a better job of keeping hold of its vendors, which include Mandriva, Ulteo, Nuxeo, Talend, and Linagora, as well as the OW2 Consortium.
Score: In the context of this study, the vendors remaining in Europe has to be a plus point. 3-2 to France.
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