What every Canadian government IT Leader should know about open source – Canadian Government Executive

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February 11, 2016

What every Canadian government IT Leader should know about open source

Open source was established around the ethos of sharing and collaboration. Today, according to Black Duck’s 9th Annual Future of Open Source Survey, “78 percent of respondents said their companies run part or all of its operations on OSS and 66 percent said their company creates software for customers built on open source. This is almost double the number of respondents – forty-two percent – which said in 2010 that they used open source in the running of their business or their IT environments.”

And, as Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst pointed out, virtually every major technology company has adopted or embraced open source. It’s created, used and tested by talented IT experts around the world and brand leaders like Red Hat, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, and more. At Red Hat, we see open source’s momentum first hand. Today, more than ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies use our open source offerings.

When I talk to government leaders across Canada, a few key questions commonly emerge about open source, which I’ve answered below.

How does open source help business compete?

Those who move the fastest often win, but speed and agility are not easy for the average IT department in Canada. David Senf of IDC Canada illustrated the challenge in an article in the Financial Post from 2014: “Because of the sheer number of issues they have to deal with, many IT executives said (in IDC research) they are way behind in investment to modernize their infrastructure to cope. In fact, 48 percent of executives overall (54 percent in large organizations) said they were behind, 30 percent overall (33 percent in large companies) felt they were OK, and only 22 percent overall (13 percent in large companies) believe they’re ahead of the game.”s

Open source helps companies compete because many minds are coming together to create solutions that offer better quality, stability, robustness, faster adoption of new technologies, and operational flexibility.

Does open source provide better ROI?

IT departments today don’t have unlimited budgets, but they have a need for almost unlimited functionality. Open source provides significant value in this area. Why? There are no licensing fees, open source helps avoid lock-in, and many customers find that open source solutions can be deployed with minimal tweaking. When compared to competitive options, open source offers impressive functionality for customer investment along with choice, flexibility, and portability.

Is open source safe?

Security is always a top priority for enterprise customers, and over the past several years we’ve seen headlining security vulnerabilities – from Heartbleed to ShellShock – that made many CIOs take notice.

Red Hat supports long lifecycles for our offerings, giving customers confidence that their chosen distribution will be supported for a specific period of time. We also have a robust process to alert customers about security issues that may impact them. In 2014, 97 percent of critical vulnerabilities had a customer fix from Red Hat either the same day, or by the second day, after they were identified. Security breaches are disclosed and posted on our measurement page on the Red Hat security blog.

How will open source integrate with my current technology stack?

This is an important question I hear regularly from prospects and the reality is the average IT department in Canada is probably using open source software. “Open source software is increasingly ubiquitous,” wrote Forrester Research’s Jeffrey S. Hammond in his March 2015 Best Practices: Adopt Open Source Software to Improve Development Effectiveness (subscription required for access). “Adopting open source software isn’t a question of if, but how,” he added.

Integration starts with open standards and finding a partner who is fully committed to delivering solutions that are based on current standards that help simplify integration with a large ecosystem of partners, both hardware and independent software vendors (ISVs), enables customers to implement solutions with confidence.

Some of the things you should be looking for in a great “team player” in integration include:

  • Certification against thousands of hardware and software vendor’s products and solutions so a wide range of hardware and applications are already fully supported on their technology.
  • Implementation and support for open standards. If existing solutions support the appropriate open standards, integration is often fairly straightforward.
  • Out-of-the-box support for common virtualization, storage and networking technologies.
  • World-class support, and when needed, professional services to help resolve questions and issues quickly, and to help make deployment and integration of technology as seamless as possible.

By Luc Villeneuve, country leader, Canada, Red Hat

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