Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Public - Private Partnerships for Open Source

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are much discussed these days by governments everywhere. The connection between innovation, growth of IT industry and PPPs will be one focal point for the work of the Open ePolicy Group 2.0.

In addition to my work on PPPs, I have been looking for examples of governments with PPP initiatives related to open technologies (open source, open standards, open architectures).

Today's example: Vietnam.

Vietnam's Central Committee for Science and Education has signed an MOU with Intel to jointly set up an OpenLab for the development and testing of open source software. Testing laboratories are nothing new, for Intel or other global IT companies. Labs focused on open source software are less widespread, but a growing trend. By partnering with the private sector, such PPPs can help governments overcome common concerns about the security and reliability of open source. And this PPP will produce the goods. In the end, Vietnam expects to install open source on 27,000 of its public sector PCs.

If you think this is simply about Vietnam luring a big investment from Intel, think again. Vietnam's government is intent on accelerating growth of its domestic IT industry and its e-government efforts. Vietnam is a government with a plan -- an official plan -- a National Plan for Open Source Software Development and Application. It is investing $20 million of its own money to develop open source locally.

What is driving this effort? As an official from Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology put it, "We are trying step by step to eliminate Microsoft."

Do you know of other PPPs focused on open ICT? The Open ePolicy Group would love to hear about them. Post a comment here to share it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Denmark to ODF: Show Me the Money

... and it will. As a new report completed for the Danish government says, switching to OpenDocument format will save money. Big money. $94 million over five years, according to the Open Source Business Association.

The report examined the costs of various options for document formats when implementing a new Danish law that requires use of open standards by January 1, 2008.

Over time, we will see more quantitative cost assessments and business cases on decisions related to document formats. This will be important to convince governments and other high-volume document creators of the wisdom in moving to ODF and other open standards.

Choices exist. Microsoft Office and its developing Office Open XMLA. OpenDocument Format. But the real obstacle, as noted by Morten Helveg Petersen, one of the key architects behind the Danish Parliament's decision on open standards, is indecision.

Facing choices, governments often have trouble making a decision, especially if the cost implications are unknown. The availability of detailed cost evaluations and business cases will go a long way to overcoming indecision and accelerating the adoption of ODF. Money talks.

[All credit to John Gotze for publicizing this development in Denmark.]