Vietnam bolsters open source efforts

The government inks a deal with Intel to power some 27,000 computers with open source software.
Written by Aaron Tan on

SINGAPORE–The Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) has signed an agreement with chip giant Intel to bolster the country's open source efforts.

In the deal, inked by both parties last month, Intel will establish a new open source lab in Vietnam to test and develop open source software that will power some 27,000 Intel-based PCs used by the VCP.

The five-year deal was spearheaded by the Central Committee for Science and Education (CCSE), an organization that advises the VCP on policies in science and education, according to a statement released by Intel.

Through the open source lab, the chipmaker will also provide a range of support services such as technical surveys, equipment setups and software training.

Le Quang Huy, director of the CCSE Resource Center, said open source applications can reap in benefits such as security, reliability, product localization and the creation of intellectual property.

The agreement also dovetails with the ruling party's IT master project in accelerating e-government initiatives, as outlined in the National Plan for the Open Source Software Development and Application in Vietnam.

The country's IT project aims to accelerate the application and development of open source software, enhance copyright protection and reduce the cost of software purchase. In addition, the country will also form a team of competent technical experts in open source software to create products suited to domestic needs.

Than Trong Phuc, Intel's country manager for Vietnam, said: "Intel is committed in working with global and local industry leaders to provide integrated, tuned and tested e-government solutions."

"We are committed in working with CCSE to build a robust open-source computing solution that will increase office automation's efficiency and transactional client activities across the Party."

A Singapore-based Intel spokesperson declined to reveal which software partners will provide the open-source products laid out in the agreement.

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Vietnamese authorities are reportedly turning to open source software in an attempt to reduce software piracy, part of its free trade agreement with the United States, and its entry into the World Trade Organization.

According to latest piracy figures from industry group Business Software Alliance, the piracy level in Vietnam stands at 90 percent in 2005, down 2 percentage points from the previous year.

In July, an IDC-company Government Insights, noted in a report that open source software will gain momentum faster within the government sector than other markets.

"Government software needs are unique because governments perform a unique function--service to the citizen," said Shawn McCarthy, head of vendor programs at Government Insights. Unlike the private sector, governments still benefit from the code that is created and developed even if the code is freely available to others, he said.

Government Insights projected that the percentage of total government IT spending allocated to open source software will grow at a 30 percent compound annual growth rate worldwide.

"This is the same kind of aggressive growth that we saw in the early days of Linux," McCarthy said. "There is reason to believe that this growth will continue past 2010, making both traditional and government-coordinated open source projects a force to be reckoned with in the next decade."

"Government agencies are now developing their own open code repositories, and also working with systems integrators to develop new government-specific open source solutions," he said.


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