Major open source initiative targets IT directors

Companies are being given help to migrate to licence-free software by a joint initiative from OpenForum Europe and the National...

Companies are being given help to migrate to licence-free software by a joint initiative from OpenForum Europe and the National Computing Centre (NCC).

On Tuesday (13 March) the organisations announced that they would be combining their efforts to produce a cohesive plan to help companies make effective use of open source software.

The move follows separately commissioned reports that found the main obstacles to the adoption of open source to be worries about software quality, support, training and the accountability of software developers.

Michael Gough, the NCC's chief executive, said: "Our plan is to establish a library of pointers to where the software, documentation and support can be found. We are targeting the IT manager or director who needs to know what is available. The OpenForum will concentrate on higher-level advice for CFOs and CIOs."

Bruce Forbes, chief technical officer at the Financial Times, said: "OpenForum Europe will help users to understand how to assemble the evidence, due diligence, support and longevity projections that will be needed to carry the large stakeholders in large corporations.

"If you don't think you use open source, look again at your firewall and Internet servers. Open source is below the radar screen at the moment, but its time is coming."

Proprietary software is a closed environment where only certain details of the inner workings of programs are revealed. Specialist support is usually only available from the development company, and bespoke changes are rare. The source code for open source products, including the Linux operating system and its applications, is freely available, and independent developers can provide support.

Both OpenForum Europe and the NCC have been advising the government on the feasibility of adopting an open source strategy, and it is likely that this initiative will result in the adoption of governmental pilot schemes.

A report from OpenForum Europe found that interest in open source has grown since recent licensing increases from proprietary software suppliers - total cost of ownership is a major concern for CIOs. It also found that there is a need to see high-profile success stories of open source adoption for mission-critical environments.

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