Open-source firm accredited for schools

The government agency that administers schools IT has accredited open-source company Sirius as a supplier

The government agency that administers IT in schools has added an open-source company to its new, 12-strong list of accredited suppliers.

The open-source service provider, Sirius, said on Monday that it had gained accreditation after successfully tendering to be included in Becta's 'Software Licensing Framework.' Within this framework, companies bid to provide operating systems, networking and internet software, and business, management and productivity programs.

"It's been quite a long battle, measured in years," said Tom Callway, marketing manager for Sirius. "We're delighted about the opportunities not just for us, but for open source in general."

Callway said that open source was becoming more accepted in the mainstream as high-profile projects, such as Google's Chrome browser and Android mobile-phone operating system, come to fruition.

Sirius's accreditation to the Becta framework means schools can choose to implement Sirius open-source services, including infrastructure consulting, technical support and managed services, through Becta, the government agency that administers schools' IT.

Callway said Sirius being accepted was a "tacit acknowledgement" by the UK government that open source was a viable alternative to proprietary software. "The government is already using vast amounts of open source," he said. "It's well known that GCHQ uses open source, particularly Red Hat Linux. The government is adapting to the changing market place."

Eleven other vendors made the list: Academia, Civica Services, European Electronique, Insight Direct (UK), Joskos Solutions, Pugh Computers, Ramesys (e-business services), RM, SCC, Trustmarque Solutions and Viglen.

The contracts now open to the 12 companies total approximately £80m.

Open-source company Novell did not gain accreditation, although it was shortlisted. Novell had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.

Linux IT, another open-source vendor involved in the shortlisting process, claimed it had pulled out of the process as it felt its products were slanted more towards more business than education.

Bill Quinn, product manager at Linux IT, told on Friday that "it became clear that Becta was looking for organisations which are education-orientated as opposed to commercially orientated".