Sunday, 29 November 2015

Unearthing the Open Source Software ‘Lone Rangers’

When asked to speak at the #SoftwareFreedomDay2015 in Pretoria regarding the South African government’s progress on the implementation of the Open Source Software Policy, I painted four scenarios  regarding OSS implementation by government departments:-

Scenario 1:   ‘Johny Walkers’

These are departments/institutions that have embraced the adoption of open source software and led the implementation thereof on core applications,   OSS  finds expression in their ICT plans/business  strategy,  Dedicated resources to support such initiatives, Have sound relationships with OSS industry players, They will continue to impliment as they have seen the  benefits. 

 Examples:- Department of Science and Technology (DST),  Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), National Library of South Africa, Department of Women

Scenario 2:  Lone Rangers

These are individual FOSS proponents and geeks within institutions/departments. They use FOSS to experiment and supplement their work tools and for their daily lives. The  challenge is lack of support from ICT leadership and  line of business in the department, hence they feel lonely and misunderstood in their FOSS  efforts. Efforts will remain limited to their areas of work without progression to business wide impact.

Scenario 3:  Talk Right, Walk Left

Characterised by ICT leadership that apparently ‘supports’ FOSS. They have established a lab – two desktop computers at most, there is no progress beyond the lab into enterprise wide implementation. Suffers from FOSS Phobia in private hence the support for FOSS in public and the fear in private. Could be converted to full proponent with time and support

Scenario 4:  Outright Opponents

These are diehard proprietary solution supporters. They are wired to proprietary solutions due to academic background, certification and experience. Difficult to persuade otherwise. Will not support any FOSS initiatives in an environment hence no reflection of FOSS initiatives in enterprise plans

Having reflected on the above, I concluded my talk by saying that we need to unearth all the ‘lone rangers’ and persuade the ‘talk right, walk left’ category.  

Therefore I was quite excited when approached by the Drupal Association of South Africa (DASA) to host the inaugural meeting of Drupal users in Government and NGO sector which was held at the Department of Arts and Culture on 16 October 2015. Subsequent meetups will be taking place quarterly in 2016.

With the successful inaugural meeting done, the plan is to hold a DrupalCamp in collaboration with DASA at the DAC next year (2016). A DrupalCamp is a national conference and the aim is to gather more people.

In conclusion, it is initiatives like this that can really get like-minded open source proponents in government work together on common problems towards finding long-term solution.  This will encourage even the fence sitters to start taking notice of open source and cross to the OSS side. The journey continues ….

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