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Three Reasons Government Contractors Need to Use Open Source Solutions

  
  

It’s no secret that government bodies are forced to get creative if they want to keep operating without a hitch in the face of continually receding budgets. It’s also no secret that to operate effectively, these organizations need to leverage cutting-edge technological solutions to expedite processes, like collecting revenues and facilitating communications.

With open source solutions—software that’s developed in a community setting and is shared freely, generally speaking—governments are able to accomplish these tasks, being both productive and cost-effective at the same time.

But while many governments have decided to modernize their technological infrastructure, not all of them have. Since it’s only a matter of time before more governments deploy open source solutions, let’s take a look at three reasons why government contractors should use open source:

  • Continued improvement. Once a project is open sourced, a community of enthusiastic programmers works together to consistently improve the code. While government agencies might not have the staff in place to develop new features, the open source community does. Contractors can work to establish maintenance contracts with government bodies and can also serve in advisory roles.
  • A better product. Because open source code is scanned, edited and built upon by well-trained experts, you can trust that it’s able to be repurposed. This allows you to save a whole lot of time on your projects, as you won’t have to rewrite the same lines over and over again. The time saved can then be reinvested in the product, resulting in a stronger finished version.
  • It’s the future. Google, Facebook—and even Microsoft and Adobe—leverage open source solutions. As more and businesses wake up to the facts, it’s likely they will similarly migrate away from proprietary solutions.

In addition to the above, rather than having to keep mum about their involvement in government projects, contractors are able to get their names out in the public, for free, when they participate in the open community. What’s not to like?

Will Quebec Shift to Open Source Software?

  
  

What do Munich, the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Tamil Nadu, India, have in common? Well, in addition to the fact that they’re all places on Earth, they are also locations where the government has decided to deploy open source software.

Quebec—though long criticized for its failure to embrace open technology— may be the next locale to be included on the above list, and sooner rather than later. The province’s change of heart is due in part to Canada’s Bill 133, which was passed by the government in 2011. The bill requires any serious conversation about IT decisions to include discussion of open alternatives.

While the Canadian federal government has centralized its IT operations, Quebec is more of a fragmented ecosystem without much overlap among departments. As a result, it can be hard to quickly implement changes. Still, it’s likely only a matter of time before open systems win out over their proprietary substitutes. After all, what’s the sense in paying sizeable licensing fees for proprietary solutions when their open source alternatives provide the same functions?

Simply put, it no longer makes sense in many instances to deploy commercial solutions. This reality is wholeheartedly understood by the younger generation, according to industry insiders. “There’s a big generational shift taking place,” explains Cyrille Béraud, president of Savoir-faire Linux. “Baby boomers are retiring and new people are taking over. They realize that the knowledge economy is important; they grew up with the Internet, and they know that the Internet was built on open software.”

As the public becomes more educated about open source software, it’s easy to imagine taxpayers encouraging their governments to reduce unnecessary IT expenses by ridding themselves of proprietary systems.

Network Functions Virtualization Tries Its Hand at Open Source

  
  
network functions virtualization

It seems as though everything is getting virtualized.

To save money, accelerate time to market and provide flexibility, many businesses are deciding to embrace network functions virtualization (NFV), the process in which server-based network operations—like intrusion detection, firewalls, Domain Name Service (DNS) and others—are virtualized.

In other words, NFV empowers engineers to deploy and manage network services virtually.

In an effort to accelerate innovation and advance open NFV, the Linux Foundation recently announced a consortium of companies would be joining forces on the Open Platform for NFV Project, which is described as a “carrier-grade, integrated open source platform.”

While the consortium includes many of the expected companies—AT&T, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM and Intel, among many others—some industry juggernauts, like Verizon and BT, are conspicuously missing.

“The Open Platform for NFV will bring together providers, cloud and infrastructure vendors, developers and users alike to define a new type of reference platform for the industry, integrating existing open source building blocks with new components and testing that accelerates development and deployment of NFV,” explained Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation. “We are excited to host this important industry initiative that will provide a common foundation for the future of networks.”

So why the push for NFV, anyway? For starters, NFV:

  • Saves money. Businesses are able to reduce both CAPEX and OPEX when they move forward with NFV. Rather than having to pay to power and cool a host of equipment or buy new purpose-built hardware, everything you need to power your operations can be managed on a virtual machine.
  • Accelerates innovation. Instead of having to invest a whole lot of time deploying networking services in a traditional manner, NFV allows you to make changes immediately, thus allowing you to better navigate ever-changing business requirements.
  • Provides agility. NFV gives you the ability to deliver services via software. This allows you to quickly figure out new configurations virtually instead of having to figure out what changes need to be made to hardware.

NFV is still a relatively new idea. But thanks to the fact that the open source community has finally embraced it, we should begin to see more companies benefiting from it in the very near future.

Seneca College Lets Undergrads Code Real Open Source Projects

  
  

computer labThese days, any serious IT professional needs to be well versed in open source technology. Recognizing this need, Seneca College founded The Centre for Development of Open Technology (CDOT) in 2002, committed to the sharing knowledge, education and projects with the open source world. While Seneca’s dedication to open source technology showcases the college’s forward-thinking abilities, the fact that it’s making the news in the first place also highlights the notion that not enough higher learning institutions are committed to the open cause.

So how did CDOT come to be so immersed in open source technology? Well, back in 2005 David Humphrey, a faculty member, got in touch with Mozilla with some questions related to Firefox’s code base. After the engineers at Mozilla saw what Seneca students were able to do, a symbiotic relationship was born.

Back in the day, we probably became accustomed to having professors assign us what appeared to be busywork from time to time. Rather than having programming students create code to solve fabricated problems that have no real-world application, CDOT empowers its student researchers to work on problems that were indeed very real. At the same time, these students become very familiar with the open source philosophy that working together, a group of programmers is often able to come up with a better solution. And because the code that powers those solutions is free for anyone to see, the solutions can be continuously improved.

Seneca’s open source program differs from the handful of other programs due to the fact that undergraduate students are able to get incredibly involved with actual open source projects. Believe it or not, the school actually designs courses in such a way so as to ensure students will participate in them.

The end result? Many of CDOT alumni end up at open source companies like Mozilla and Google.

As time passes, even more companies, governments and education institutions will embrace open source technology. Since that’s the case, the sooner your organization does, the better.

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.NET Goes Open Source, Vegetable Gardens & Governments Follow

  
  

Microsoft Opens .NET

In what is probably the smartest move Microsoft has made with.NET, Microsoft announced this week that it is making the platform open source.  Although pieces of .NET have been released as open source in the past this is the first time the entire framework has been made available.  The move significant increases the suitability of .NET platform for development across all platforms. Needless to say that we had already covered .NET in our Global IP Signatures (GIPS)  database. Gigaom covers it nicely here, or take a look at the project on GitHub.


UK Ministry of Defence Opens Ideaworks

The Ministry of Defence in the UK has open sourced Ideaworks, a collaboration application for organizing and ranking ideas.  The program was originally created as an inexpensive prototype and it is hoped that sharing the project will help improve the code. This being a slow day at Protecode, we are currently scanning it for security vulnerabilities.  Here’s the code and the story at Computer World UK


Collecting Taxes is Better With Open Source

Indonesia’s tax agency has saved 90% on maintenance and licensing fees since 2002 by using open source software.  Lower cost of acquisition and maintenance was one driver. The lack of license fees on open source software also allows the agency to bypass the country’s complicated procurement system.  Read more at Future Gov.


Government Collaboration in India

Not to be left behind, the government of India is set to create a policy that favours open source software over proprietary equivalents.  Aside from the cost savings, the government hopes that using open source will increase the speed and quality of development within government. All this will be hosted on an Indian GitHub-like repository The Economic Times reports.


Let the Open Source Community Grow Your Vegetables

The open source concept may be getting a bit out of hand.  Here’s why. A team of Italian engineers have created The MEG (Micro Experimental Growing) Open Source Greenhouse.  You can control the temperature, humidity, soil, and lighting of the MEG.  Users will then be able to share the recipe for their gardening successes (and failures) with the MEG community to improve the growing process for everyone.  The culprit for the story is Gizmag.


Choosing an Open Source License

Computer Weekly published a helpful infographic (The best we have seen so far) on choosing an open source license.


Four Must-See Open Source Internet of Things Projects

  
  

oss iotThe Internet of Things (IoT) market might bring in as much as $19 trillion by 2020. In the simplest language, the IoT is the idea that if a device stands to benefit from communicating with the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before the device is built with that functionality.
Like any other avenue of technology, the IoT encompasses both proprietary and open source solutions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four exciting open source IoT projects, as we believe open source will help the IoT realize its fullest potential:

  • Contiki is an open source operating system designed with the IoT in mind. According to the project’s website, Contiki “connects tiny, low-cost, low-power microcontrollers to the Internet,” supporting both IPv4 and IPv6.
  • mBed is building an open source operating system, a device server and other free tools that are designed to encourage efficiency, connectivity and security with an eye toward scalability. In other words, mBed is creating the framework that allows users to build standards-based IoT devices at scale.
  • TinyOS is, you guessed it, another open source operating system for the IoT. The OS is designed for low-power wireless devices, such as those used in sensor networks, ubiquitous computing, personal area networks, smart building and smart meters, among other things, according to the project’s website.
  • InfluxDB is an open source distributed time series database with no external dependencies, as the project’s website explains. The database is self-contained with no external dependencies, and it can scale horizontally. InfluxDB features a “SQL-like query language designed for working with time series and analytics.”

There are countless other open source IoT projects, many of which provide users and developers with very useful functionality. As the IoT continues to proliferate, we expect that these open source projects will become even more common, particularly as developers strive to ensure interoperability amongst their solutions.

Why Open Source Should Power the Internet of Things

  
  

How many times have you left your home only to wonder whether you locked the doors, turned the lights off or shut off the air conditioner? Thanks to the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), worries like these will likely become a thing of the past—sooner than you might realize.

Simply put, the IoT encompasses the idea that every device in our lives—from car keys to home appliances even to sneakers—that stands to benefit from Internet connectivity will ultimately be connected. As technology evolves and network connection speeds become faster, we can expect to see the IoT ecosystem grow by leaps and bounds. In fact, Cisco estimates that, by 2020, the IoT ecosystem will grow to include 50 billion devices.

While the IoT promises to have a profound impact on all of our lives, serious consideration must be given to the interoperability among this multitude of connected devices. After all, the ultimate promise of the IoT will be realized when the technologies work together in unison.

And that harmony might very well be found in open source technology.

“If you look at the Internet today, it’s run on open source,” explains Ian Skerret of the Eclipse Foundation. “Linux, Apache and open standards like HTTP are the building blocks. But if we’re really going to get an Internet of Things, we need a set of core building blocks that anyone can use to develop commercial or internal solutions.”

In other words, IoT solutions need to be engineered by people who are familiar with gateways, networks, enterprise systems, data analytics, integration with ERP and CRM systems and more, Skerret continues. Should all of that technology be built in a closed environment, creating solutions that seamlessly interoperate with one another could be difficult if not impossible.

To combat this, Eclipse has launched an IoT initiative that seeks to develop an open source platform that can be leveraged by companies building IoT solutions. The platform would allow builders to ensure their solutions are compatible. The end result? A better experience for the end user.

Adobe’s Courting OSS, Getting A Job With Open Source, & Happy Faces for Everyone

  
  

…and more in this week’s compendium of open source news!

 

Express Yourself

emojiYou can probably express any feeling imaginable with Twitter’s newly open sourced library of 872 emojis, released under MIT license.  Developers are free to use them on their sites or apps with Wordpress having already begun implementing them.  Read more on Twitter’s blog, and then pick up the library on GitHub .

 

Oracle: A Positive Influence On MySQL

Percona is a company that lives on MySQL, the second most popular database in use, by providing support and implementation expertise.  Fed up with the bad rap Oracle has received after acquiring MySQL,  Percona’s  CEO,  Peter Zaitsev,  explains why he believes MySQL has actually become stronger under Oracle’s stewardship.   Zaitsev’s points are expanded at ZDNet

 

Adobe Gives Developers A New Open Source Tool

Adobe Research has been releasing products, such as Flex, to open source community. Now after three years of development, version 1.0 of Adobe’s open source code editor Brackets is available.  The editor, geared towards web designers and developers aims to streamline web development and is distributed under an MIT license.  Tech Times, has more of the story and try it out for yourself here.

 

Can’t find a Job? Try Open Source!

Recent graduates often having trouble finding employment with no practical work experience, and the solution to their problems may lie in open source.  Contributing to an open source project highlights a job seeker’s technical skills as well as their ability to work with others.  And it can pay off – the open source company SUSE often recruits new employees from its pool of active contributors.  Read more at Wired, then head over to GitHub and start coding!

 

SDN Competition Heats Up

Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) is the newest player to enter the field of open source software defined networking (SDN), and unlike the current forerunner of open source SDN, OpenDaylight, ON.Lab is driven by researchers rather than vendors.  While a little competition is always good, the two will have to work together to ensure the market is not fragmented further. Read more at Tech Target

 

Challenging Enterprise Standards With OSS ERP

After working on an open source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for many years, Rushabh Mehta’s project finally began to take off when he moved it to GitHub in 2011.  Before that, no one wanted to buy an ERP from a start-up, but after bulling a community around the project, Mehta estimates that around 500 companies are now using the code. Mehta’s end goal is to become the Wordpress of ERPs, giving small companies who could not previously afford such tools the benefit of an end-to-end resource planning system.  Read more at opensource.com.   

 

In open source license management news…

We’ve issued a corporate update! Read all about our recent success and shameless self-promotion here.

3 Reasons Why You Should Choose Open Source for Software-Defined Networking

  
  

open source sdnSoftware-defined networking (SDN) is the process of decoupling the control plane from the data plane, allowing the network to be controlled via software rather than hardware. SDN is becoming increasingly popular in the enterprise space, as businesses enjoy faster service provisioning, network flexibility, more formidable security and reduced operating expenses, among other things, when they employ the technology.

As a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the SDN market is growing. But what is surprising is the speed of that growth: The SDN market brought in $360 million in 2013, according to IDC. By 2016, the market is supposed to bring in $3.7 billion, a tenfold increase in three short years.

Businesses that decide to give SDN a try have the option of deployment with either proprietary or open source solutions. Let’s take a look at three reasons why open source makes more sense:

  • Quality. Because open source code is developed in a community environment, there are more eyes scanning code to make sure it’s as formidable as possible. If glitches are uncovered, they’re immediately fixed, as programmers are constantly looking to improve their product.
  • Innovation.  Open source solutions allow for business agility and flexibility. Rather than dealing with possible problems of inoperability among disparate proprietary solutions, open source tools are just that—open—meaning that innovation occurs more rapidly.
  • Security. From the outside, you might think that proprietary solutions are more secure than their open source counterparts. But quite the contrary: Because of the community of eager coders that comprise the open source world, security holes are patched quickly, as code is constantly scanned. In fact, more companies are choosing open source because of its security measures.

But the list of benefits doesn’t stop there. Click here to read even more.

Google and Dropbox Team Up for Open Source Security

  
  

In the wake of the recent celebrity photo leak scandal—and on the heels of what appears to be a similar Snapchat-related heist—digital security has become a high priority for all consumers and all businesses.

For the most part, people who use computers, the Internet and things like social media are not necessarily computer-savvy. In other words, while they might not have a problem figuring out how to turn a computer on and connect to the Internet, they might be susceptible targets for hackers and other ill-intentioned individuals.

To help protect those who need it most—and everyone else, for that matter—Google and Dropbox are teaming up with the Open Technology Fund Internet freedom program and other security professionals to form Simple Secure, a new consortium focusing on open source security.

There are a lot of security tools that Web users can employ to protect their digital footprints. But the lack of technological prowess among average Internet users makes them unlikely to discover and utilize those tools.

Simple Secure aims to create open source security tools that are easy to use—even for the most novice Internet user.

“Most security solutions are ineffective because they are too complex or time-consuming, so people make mistakes and give up,” explains Angela Sasse, a member of Simple Secure. “That does not mean they don’t want effective protection; people prefer to use the Internet and mobile services without constant worries.”

If Simple Secure accomplishes its goals, users won’t have to worry about being the victims of eavesdropping, keylogging or phishing, as they’ll be able to leverage an open source tool that even non-geniuses can use.

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