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21 January 2009, 12:47

Sun chief prescribes open source for US government

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The co-founder of Sun Microsystems and one of the most respected business leaders in Silicon Valley, Scott McNealy, claims that an open source government will save money and be more secure. McNealy stated that "Open source does not require you to pay a penny to Microsoft or IBM or Oracle or any proprietary vendor any money."

Speaking to the BBC, McNealy said that he doesn't want to see government getting "locked in" to a specific vendor or company. By choosing open source, government can "get higher quality software, lower costs" and "higher reliability." The fact that much open source software is made available publicly, is licensed royalty free for unrestricted use, along with an open code source for all to see, makes the freely available technologies and products a good choice for lowering costs and improving security. By keeping it open, anyone can help it to improve and adapt, while fixing security problems.

President Obama has said that he will try to cut wasteful US government spending by looking through budgets "line by line." The 44th president of the United States has also created a new cabinet post for a Chief Information Officer (CIO). The official extent of the new CIO's role is so far unknown. Mr. McNealy stated that "He or she would have real power, real oversight and employ real consequences for folk that don't realign with the architecture. It's what every business does that the government doesn't." Mr. McNealy's statement is based on the idea that the new CIO should "have veto power" regarding any hardware, software, or networking on the federal network.

Open source technologies and products could help to cut costs. The president of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), Michael Tiemann said "Scott is absolutely correct about the benefits, which have been demonstrated time and again." Mr. Tiemann advised that the estimated global loss due to proprietary software is "in excess of $1 trillion this year" including from "$400 billion (£290bn) and upwards" in the US alone.

With the current economic crisis sweeping the globe, open source could help to reduce government costs, while benefiting security. Of note is that large companies, including "Microsoft and Oracle have opened up some of their software and protocols to developers."


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