Inflexible Contracts Only Increase Public Sector Open Source Potential

Staff Writer | | June 10, 2014

Proprietary suppliers on “thin ice” with inflexible contracts, but open source counterparts must embrace cost honesty, writes Hampshire County Council CIO Jos Creese

The debate about the pros and cons of open source over proprietary software is certainly not a new one, and evangelists and vendors alike have strong and coherent arguments on both sides. In the public sector the debate can be particularly heated, with government ambition to discriminate in favour of open source software on the basis that it should reduce cost and break the dependency on big IT suppliers' proprietary solutions.

Advocates for open source liken its benefit to generic medicine - you can buy a packet of aspirin for a few pence or the equivalent brand name aspirin for five times as much. So why is the public sector not using open source everywhere?

In practice, 'aspirin' it is not the same as computer software.Whatever policies the public sector promotes regarding open source, these must be set in the context of total cost of ownership not just initial licence costs. That is where efficiency will be gained or lost...