Uncle Sam’s open source fair shake makes it official

The long-awaited and anticipated U.S. Department of Defense memo on open source has arrived, and it’s good for open source.

The DoD memo wisely lays out the idea that open source software should be considered not alongside traditional, commercial offerings, but basically as traditional, commercial software offerings, so that the evaluation process is truly fair. Open source doesn’t fit in all circumstances, but it certainly does afford potential cost savings, flexibility and freedom in some situations, as noted in the memo.

I would agree with Simon Phipps, who called the memo an end to FUDsters seeking to limit open source at the DoD and described it as ‘a landmark moment for the FOSS movement.’ Here’s why. I believe this is a model for government and enterprise end users to use for determining where open source software best fits into their organizations.

That’s not to say the memo or the model should favor or offers special treatment or placement for open source, which I believe is a good thing. We’ve seen elsewhere how other interests and politics can play into lobbying either for or against open source software in government, impeding a fair debate. That seems all the more reason to be encouraged by a sensible approach we see from the U.S. DoD.

I believe the memo and reaction to it represent something larger in adoption of open source software, not only by the U.S. DoD and among other governments around the globe, but also including enterprises and even SMB users: the official embrace of open source. Anyone who knows open source software and Linux should be aware that governments, military, aerospace and many other industries already rely heavily on open source software. The reason this might come as a surprise to some is that open source software, in typical fashion, has krept into these organizations, corporations and yes, communities, whether it’s embedded engineers, aerospace scientists, pharmaceutical researchers and the list goes on. Many of these various field experts and their IT partners and teams have relied heavily on Linux and open source for their projects and tests. Thanks to free availability, these smart people did not have to ask anyone whether they could use, procure or spend money on this open source software — they just did it.

And now as the U.S. DoD sets out its guidelines for considering and adopting open source software — making open source software official, approved and part of the institutional guidelines. This also comes as the White House web site shows its own affection for open source.

As we’ve found in our research and conversations, open source has two ways of getting into the market and users’ hands: unofficially through downloading, using and accelling with freely available software under the radar; and following company or organizational guidelines that govern consideration and use of open source software. The latter is bound to drive broader and greater adoption of open source software and it appears the official route has officially arrived.

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15 comments ↓

#1 Twitter Trackbacks for 451 CAOS Theory » Uncle Sam’s open source fair shake makes it official [the451group.com] on Topsy.com on 10.28.09 at 6:00 pm

[…] 451 CAOS Theory » Uncle Sam’s open source fair shake makes it official blogs.the451group.com/opensource/2009/10/28/uncle-sams-open-source-fair-shake-makes-it-official – view page – cached An open source blog by The 451 Group. — From the page […]

#2 451 CAOS Theory » Uncle Sam's open source fair shake makes it official | Open Hacking on 10.28.09 at 7:24 pm

[…] the original post: 451 CAOS Theory » Uncle Sam's open source fair shake makes it official This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 4:51 pm and is filed under Linux, […]

#3 Links 29/10/2009: Ubuntu 9.10 Released, Android Momentum Noted, 100,000,000 Downloads of OpenOffice.org 3.0 | Boycott Novell on 10.29.09 at 6:45 pm

[…] Uncle Sam’s open source fair shake makes it official […]

#4 uberVU - social comments on 10.30.09 at 11:48 am

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by compiere: @the451group explains the growing adoption of open source in government http://bit.ly/11MIQV – #opensource #opengov #var #erp…

#5 Intel Software Network Blogs » Open Source and Government on 11.02.09 at 12:58 pm

[…] Open Source analyst Jay Lyman at The 451 Group said that “this is a model for government and enterprise end users to use for determining where open source software best fits into their organizations.” He went on to talk about how “the memo and reaction to it represent something larger in adoption of open source software, not only by the U.S. DoD and among other governments around the globe, but also including enterprises and even SMB users: the official embrace of open source.” […]

#6 Open Source and Government on 11.02.09 at 3:00 pm

[…] Open Source analyst Jay Lyman at The 451 Group said that “this is a model for government and enterprise end users to use for determining where open source software best fits into their organizations.” He went on to talk about how “the memo and reaction to it represent something larger in adoption of open source software, not only by the U.S. DoD and among other governments around the globe, but also including enterprises and even SMB users: the official embrace of open source.” […]

#7 deb woods on 11.09.09 at 4:27 pm

It’s great to see the growth of open source in the government and I had the opportunity to hear David Wennergren at GOSCON. I captured some of his thoughts and posted here http://blogs.ingres.com/debwoods/ .
/deb

#8 Jay Lyman on 11.10.09 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for posting and for all of your hard work with GOSCON, Deb. Now let me know when you’re bringing it back to Portland, or perhaps it’s just gotten too big …

Regards,

#9 dan on 11.13.09 at 4:23 pm

the open source community should STOP working for the murderous military industrial prison complex! It is SHAMEFUL !!

#10 Jay Lyman on 11.13.09 at 4:31 pm

What is questionable is when proponents of free and open source software begin talking about who to close out of their chosen free and open source software communities, projects and products. Microsoft, Oracle and the U.S. military are atop the list now, yet all three seem to be already fully immersed in using, participating in and even producing free and open source software. Who else should be added to the list of those who are not allowed to participate because free and open source software is closed off to them?

JL

#11 451 CAOS Theory » Linux-fueled consolidation continues on 12.02.09 at 5:14 pm

[…] across the board, from military and aerospace (where open source may also benefit from a recent DoD memo) to telecommunications and other industrial control to consumer devices including smartphones to […]

#12 451 CAOS Theory » Open source was good enough, will non-open source be open enough? on 12.11.09 at 11:33 am

[…] must often be ‘as good or better’ than proprietary alternatives, now typically getting equal consideration from customers and […]

#13 451 CAOS Theory » Governments want more commercial out of commercial open source on 11.04.10 at 11:48 am

[…] a great demand for more commercial backing of more open source. Even though we continue to see more official adoption and procurement of open source among public organizations, it seems clear after GOSCON there is a […]

#14 451 CAOS Theory » Support keeps coming for community open source on 01.04.11 at 7:18 am

[…] software, but it seems clear that enterprise customers will be using more of it, sometimes even in official, above-board fashion. This will also mean that commercial open source software vendors will be competing even more with […]

#15 451 CAOS Theory » Need open source policy? Ask the DoD. on 05.26.11 at 4:18 pm

[…] Lyman, May 26, 2011 @ 4:18 pm ET It’s coming up on a couple of years since I wrote about the reasonable approach toward open source software adoption put forth by the U.S. Department of Defense, which was ready […]