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Getting the Maximum Benefit from Free and Open Source Software

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Talk given at the ICT Forum in Oxford in July 2013 by Scott Wilson and Mark Johnson of OSS Watch

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Getting the Maximum Benefit from Free and Open Source Software

  1. 1. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Getting the Maximum Benefit from Free and Open Source Software Scott Wilson & Mark Johnson
  2. 2. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 OSS Watch Independent Non-advocacy Based at University of Oxford Long history of supporting education @osswatch
  3. 3. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 What is Open Source? What is Free Software?
  4. 4. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Software Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits
  5. 5. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Open Source Definition • Freely Redistributable • Source Code Included • Derived Works Permitted • Integrity of Author Source Code • No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups • No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavour • Distribution of License • License Must Not Be Specific to a Product (or distribution) • License Must Not Restrict Other Software • License Must Be Technology-Neutral (no 'click wrap')
  6. 6. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Open Development • Some, but by no means all Open Source projects practice a form of community-led open development • Open development supports sustainable software communities, fostering cooperation and user engagement
  7. 7. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Why does it matter?
  8. 8. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Two Reasons • Sustained Value from ICT • Meeting User Needs
  9. 9. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Sustained Value • Reducing total cost of IT • Avoiding lock-in • Accessing the best solutions for purpose • Amplifying investment
  10. 10. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Reducing cost Open Source solutions usually, but not always, have a lower TCO This is driven principally not by removing licensing costs, but by wider choice of suppliers when it comes to hosting, support, consultancy and also from unbundling. For example, many local SMEs provide services for common OSS platforms such as Drupal, Wordpress, and Joomla. In some cases this alone has driven 90% savings for central procurements
  11. 11. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Avoiding Lock-In The takeover, and subsequent end-of-life of WebCT by market leader Blackboard was a wake up call for many in the sector Both closed-source and open-source software need to be evaluated for sustainability and viability of exit strategies examined as part of risk management
  12. 12. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Accessing the best solutions
  13. 13. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Amplifying investment • Open development of open source can amplify investment in solutions by engaging a wider, more diverse community of users and developers • Open development avoids abandonware and other pitfalls of closed projects
  14. 14. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Meeting User Needs • A key characteristic of Open Source is the flexibility to innovate, contribute, and extend without having to seek permission • A key characteristic of Open Development is ability to collaborate to share costs of niche requirements
  15. 15. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Shared Solutions
  16. 16. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Over to Mark…
  17. 17. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 The Scale of Engagement Deep Engagement Shallow Engagement Pure Procurement Customisation Contribution Leadership
  18. 18. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 The Scale of Engagement Deeper engagement != More value You can maximise value for the point on the scale you choose to position yourself
  19. 19. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Pure Procurement Just like proprietary software! Ensure your procurement policies give open source a level playing field Ask Us!
  20. 20. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Customisation Flexibility FOSS is often modular Documentation and developer support is key
  21. 21. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Contribution Ensures customisations are maintainable Encourages better coding Builds influence in the upstream project
  22. 22. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Leadership Founding/Finding/Forking Allows you to ensure the project meets your needs Allows you to benefit from the investment of others
  23. 23. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Strategic Challenges • Many institutions have procurement policies that consider open source but there is often a gap between policy and practice and uneven implementation within institutions • Open source options available for consideration in many, but not all, application areas (see ) • Open source projects from within the sector fill some niches but these often do not use open development
  24. 24. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Summing Up • Level the playing field for open source, and local SMEs, in procurement of software and services, at both a policy and practice level across the organisation • Where new solutions and services are developed internally consider using open development practices • Identify an appropriate level of engagement with FOSS
  25. 25. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Find out more @osswatch
  26. 26. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Bonus questions! Cloud! Security! Legal! Money! Men with Beards!
  27. 27. Scott Wilson, 20/6/2013 Cloud Cloud services can be built on OSS Google, Twitter, Facebook, GitHub,, Coursera … or provide a way to deploy OSS Microsoft VM Depot, ULCC … or be offered as OSS OpenStack, EdX,, Diaspora