Open-source vendors need to become "more business-like" in their dealings with government if they are to see their products prosper in the public sector, according to a government official.
Patrick Callioni, division manager at the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), told CeBIT Australia visitors that it would be a "hard slog" for open-source vendors to gain government mindshare.
His comments came during a panel discussion on open source in government.
"It's a hard slog [selling to government]," Callioni told attendees.
"Even for Microsoft it's a hard slog, believe it or not. And if you want to sell to government you've got to get more business-like.
"Government isn't going to be interested in doing business with a company that's here today and seems to be at risk of being gone tomorrow."
Callioni is not the first to call for more business acumen from open-source vendors. The former CIO of Masachusetts in the US, Peter Quinn, last year said Linux vendors needed to be more business-savvy to improve takeup.
Another government panellist, Neale Hooper, a project manager with the QLD government, said the state had a "big connection" with Microsoft following recent licensing deals.
However, there could be opportunities for open source to make inroads once the contracts concluded, said Hooper.
"I don't have any sense that there's anything anti-open source [in government]," he said.
Callioni said despite the hard slog to progress, open source was making inroads in government.
"The change is happening. It's happening gradually," he said.
"I think when we release the data from our survey, Use of Open Source in Australian government, we might all be surprised just how much use there is."
AGIMO recently conducted a whole-of-government survey on the takeup of open source technologies. The survey will be the first detailed study of Australian government use and attitudes towards open source.
Callioni did not say when the survey findings would be released.