Govt CIOs still misunderstand open source: Novell

Govt CIOs still misunderstand open source: Novell

Summary: The problem with open source software is a lack of understanding, not a lack of support, according to a Novell executive who hit back at the CIOs from some of Australia's top government agencies.


The problem with open source software is a lack of understanding, not a lack of support, according to a Novell executive who hit back at the CIOs from some of Australia's top government agencies.

Responding to opinion from the CIOs from the ATO, Centrelink and Defence that open source software is unattractive due to a lack of support, Novell said that the open source ecosystem is misunderstood.

"Linux is clearly open source, but quality-wise it rivals traditionally manufactured software and has arguably some better support than commercial proprietary systems," Paul Kangro, applied technology strategist at Novell told

The real problem with open source is that few understand what it is. There are hundreds of thousands of open source projects but just a handful of them — like Linux, Sugar CRM and MySQL — are supported, said Kangro.

"Just because a project is open source doesn't mean it will be supported well or badly. There are key projects like Linux that have a tremendous amount of community support, but you can also purchase support from reputable vendors," he told

"There's a lack of understanding of what is open source. I think that's a fear that's probably been raised by certain quarters of the industry where they feel that open source is treading on their toes," he said.

He said that Gartner's hype-cycle chart has also added to the confusion.

"So, I think people, after seeing the Gartner hype cycle, thought it's going to be open source everything, and when they find out they can't get support for something they move from a euphoric high to the harsh reality. Every piece of technology goes through this," said Kangro.

However, Kangro pointed out that Telstra is using SUSE Linux as its standard operating environment, while St George bank has "invested heavily in our technology".

"SUSE Linux runs the whole of the German Air Traffic Control. I don't think anyone in their right mind would say that organisation should have software that is not of a first-class standard."

While in the past there have been difficulties getting support in mixed Linux and Windows environments, virtualisation has forced Novell and Microsoft to take a different approach, he said. The companies signed in agreement in 2006 to provide support for the other's operating system, which Kangro believes will lead to Microsoft and Novell's domination of the world.

"To Microsoft's credit, we have realised the way forward is to provide what customers want ... In a few short years, it's going to be a world dominated by Windows-Linux," he said.

"Arguably CIOs want low risk. They want an environment where it works together. Now you have Microsoft selling maintenance certificates for SUSE Linux to their major client base," he said.

Topics: Government, Enterprise Software, Government AU, Linux, Open Source, Oracle

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Govt CIOs

    Champions, who get themselves formal invitations to fabulous conferences (and locales) and 'heads-up' product demonstrations, courtesy of industry leaders (of the like the European Union has recently dealt with). Then soon afterwards appreciative government agencies are locked into ongoing and rediculously expensive contracts with crooked and unchallenged clauses included. Familiar with this scenario? Probably still going on folks, thanks to public sector champions. captains of chaos

    Middle management, often selected for convenience; promoted through expediency; sometimes promoted out through risk of potential (audit) embarassment. They just might have requisite professionalism yet sometimes have well placed friends, very good friends - ICT company owners on site. Even better to conveniently source skillsets for the Australian tax payer to reward. Any conflict of interest occurring here, let alone equal employment opportunity within the Australian work force....?

    ICT company rates & commissions, selection of contracted personnel, accountable public sector management and well targeted & appropriate public sector audit processes should all be reviewed and scrutinised. Why? At least for the tax payers' benefit and those in the community entitled to equal employment opportunity without being ripped off. feral affairs and tribalism