Open Source Government: Europe buying or watching Open Source?

At the 6th NorthEast Asia Open Source SW Promotion Forum held in Seoul on the 12 September 2007 Christophe Forax, representing the EU Telecom and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding, stated that Europe should better monetize open source software.

HelpHelp the fairy penguins by jojo79

The European Union, notably through its IST research programme, has been supporting open source for many years with projects in areas as diverse as eHealth, digital libraries, Grid infrastructures, the GEANT research network backbone, eGovernment, multimedia, embedded system applications, software and middleware development. [..]

Indeed, for the time being, whereas anybody can contribute to an open source development – our citizens and companies actively do it – most of the management and the marketing business on open source is done by US companies. These are issues that should be addressed by the European and Asian software and IT communities and by governments in a more proactive way.

Few days ago Viviane Reding in person commenting “Truffle 100 Europe,” the leading ranking of the top 100 European software companies, is told to have said similar things.

Open Source analysts commented calling for “Europe’s open source opportunity” and claiming “Europe the leader, not the follower in open source“, bringing interesting arguments and questions on the table.

Geographical distribution of developers.

Matthew Aslett asks where come from statistics stating that 70% of open source developers worldwide are European. I asked Ross Turk, SourceForge Community Manager, some statistics for September 2007 (25 million unique visitors):

  • 17.89% United states
  • 7.77% Germany
  • 6.35% Italy
  • 5.72% Spain
  • 5.64% France
  • 4.27% Brazil
  • 4.05% United Kingdom
  • 3.12% Canada
  • 2.72% Japan
  • 2.40% Poland
  • 40.07% Other

While I am not sure that SourceForge users’ geographical distribution is a good measure of how many open source developers are based in Europe, I can hardly believe that 70% might be an accurate estimation. FLOSSimpact research gets a point looking at committers. Besides Debian it could be relevant to examine also what happens within the Apache Software Foundation and other international organizations.

Europe’s position towards Open Source.

It is quite difficult to talk about a European open source strategy, but reading the last IDABC Open Source Observatory News Roundup is clear that something is changing:

It is not a general trend yet, but it is true that many European countries and regions are looking more and more in open source software. While Public Administrations get interested, medium to large IT firms are still unable to fulfill customers’ expectations, lacking to offer services on a wide range of applications and infrastructures.

Evaluation of costs/benefits of transitions.

Guidelines, case histories and blueprints are needed to speed up open source adoption by public administrations and private firms.

KBSt, the German Federal Government Co-ordination and Advisory Agency for IT in the Federal Administration, published a Migration Guide aimed at migrating the basic software components on server and workstation, revised on March 2005. Despite has not been updated recently, it really worth reading.

IDABC, the Pan European eGovernment Services, in November 2003 published the IDA Open Source Migration Guidelines, designed to help public administrators decide whether a migration to OSS should be undertaken. It’s a general introduction to migration’s issues and opportunities, still a good start point for newbies.

A long time ago I happened to read the Deliverable 6.1 of COSPA, the Consortium aims at analysing the effects of the introduction of Open Data Standards (ODS) and Open Source (OS) software for personal productivity and document management in European Public Administrations (PAs).

The goal of Deliverable D6.1 is to run experiments on the introduction of OSS/ODS in the partner PAs, and to benchmark the effectiveness of the deployed OSS solutions through a statistical and cost/benefit analysis using the framework developed in D3.1.

Despite news section still announces the availability of this deliverable, I couldn’t manage to find it. I am happy that the Wayback Machine still archives those pages, and the full document as well.

Enclosed you will find in depth cases studies of Total Cost of Ownership and Migration Costs, I hope you will enjoy and help the dissemination, since apparently the COSPA website gave up with it.

Why that? Remember, transparency pays, always.

Technorati Tags: Open Source Migration, Open Source Government, Europe IT strategy,, Migration, FLOSSimpact, IDABC, Open Source Observatory, KBST