[Fsfe-ie] Open source 'too costly' for Irish e-gov

adam beecher lists at beecher.net
Fri Apr 30 00:49:03 CEST 2004

That the article discusses open source and not free software is entirely
beyond my control. ;)

I'll leave it with you to analyse, I'll simply say that I think Hanafin has
it all bass-ackwards. It would be interesting to hear what the government
"looked into", and how they went about it. I hope they didn't ask the LGCSB
for advice...

If this hasn't been posted on Linux.ie, might be a good idea to pass it on.
I'm not subscribed to that list.


Open source 'too costly' for Irish e-gov
Thursday, April 29 2004
by Matthew Clark


E-government in Ireland will be built using open standards technology, which
may not be open source software such as Linux.

That's according to Mary Hanafin, Ireland's Minister for State with
responsibility for the Information Society, who was speaking at the Irish
Software Association's 16th annual conference, sponsored by Microsoft,
O'Donnell Sweeney and ACT Venture Capital. At the event, Minister Hanafin
gave a brief overview of the state of Ireland's e-government plans and said
that an update to the government's ICT strategy document "New Connections"
would be published before May.

"The use of open standards is critical to the government's plans," she said.
"But it is important to remember that open standards are not the same as
open source." Minister Hanafin indicated that Ireland's e-government system,
once fully constructed, needs to last for several decades and must therefore
be upgradeable. "Using open standards gives us that option."

She added that the government had looked into the long-term cost of various
architectures and had determined that using only open source software could,
in the long run, be more expensive. "The long-term cost of open source may
outweigh the short term savings," she said.

Open standards software products are designed to be interoperable with
software from other manufacturers, but can be proprietary technologies.
Companies like IBM and Microsoft -- huge advocates for strong intellectual
property law and by extention proprietary software -- are supporters of open
standards, particularly Web Services architectures. The pair, along with BEA
Systems and Verisign, even founded the Web Services Interoperability
Organization (WS-I), which promotes the technology.

Microsoft -- perhaps the staunchest supporter of proprietary software --
recently announced the release of WSE (Web Services Enhancements) 2.0 to
give software developers support for Web Services specifications, including
WS-Security, WS-Routing, WS-Addressing, WS-ReliableMessaging and

The open source software movement, meanwhile, is not focused on pushing
common technical standards, although many in the movement support such
initiatives. Open source backers aim to create a market where software code
is open to development and modification, which can in some instances
undermine interoperability.

The question over open source or open standards in Irish e-government is
especially pertinent now that work on Ireland's long-awaited Public Services
Broker has commenced after BearingPoint won the contract. When completed,
the Public Services Broker -- which is also now called reachservices -- will
serve as a kind of central nervous system for Irish e-government services,
linking practically all government departments and agencies so that
information on citizens can be shared.

Minister Hanafin said on Thursday that phase one of the PSB should be
completed by June 2004.

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