THE RISE AND RISE OF LINUX
The rise of open source software into the mainstream
has been backed by a number of major corporations, including
Computer Associates (CA), IBM, Oracle and Novell.
Thanks to their efforts and the dedication of all Open Source
protagonists, the future for Open Source software – particularly
Linux – is rosy, says Inus Gouws, a senior information management
(IM) consultant at Computer Associates Africa.
Johannesburg, South Africa, 10 October 2005 - There is little
doubt that Open Source software has entrenched its position in
business in 2005. Its ready availability, low cost of acquisition,
ease of maintenance, and ability to shrug off virus attacks have
resulted in a fundamental shift in the operating system and business
This has vindicated the long held beliefs of the Open Source visionaries
that the “rapid evolutionary processes” that characterise Open
Source software development produce a better product than the traditional,
proprietary models have done.
At the same time, these “visionaries” have themselves become more
commercial and less introspective – geeklike - in their approach
to promoting their strategies for the future.
Today there are many business structures being put into place
to address this new world. And there are many proposals on the
table designed to further the Open Source cause.
For example, the South African government is intent on making
open standards a non-negotiable base for Information Technology
(IT) in the public sector.
It is also actively encouraging government agencies and public
institutions to use Open Source software to enable better service
delivery to citizens by allowing it to compete on a level playing
field with proprietary alternatives in government software procurement.
There is also money to be saved. The State IT Agency, for example,
is driving the implementation of Open Source alternatives because
it stands to save around R3bn a year on licensing fees - according
to quotes from agency chief information officer Mojalefa Moseki.
Some industry watchers have pegged the true cost of proprietary
software to government at around R9,4bn per annum, with support
and upgrade costs included.
Adding to the weight behind the Open Source movement are joint
public/ private sector projects designed to channel the efforts
of more universities and private companies into setting up resources
centres to help develop Open Source programming skills.
What's more, there is a significant pool of software programming
talent in South Africa that could be expanded even further with
the right incentives in place.
Where will this leave the multi-national software companies? It
is no secret that Computer Associates, one of the world's leaders
in software development, is a keen supporter of Open Source and
has kept an eye on developments in the Linux arena.
Although not the only Open Source software on the market, the
widespread acceptance of Linux in this arena is a fact.
CA has, for example, placed the Linux-based Ingress relational
database solution at the centre of its open source strategy, to
the extent that Ingres has been released to the market under the ‘CA
Trusted Open Source License' banner.
Many proponents of proprietary software believe that Linux – and
other Open Source solutions - are immature and too unstable to
be entrusted with mission critical applications in government and
They say that Linux will never become truly mainstream and will
be relegated to very specialised and niche markets.
This is clearly not the case. Open Source technologies have made
rapid strides in the past year or two and have proved themselves
conclusively in major global database server and Web server applications.
Other governments - in France, Germany and Peru, for example – have
weighed the positions of Open Source and proprietary software carefully
and have come out squarely in favour of Open Source. So too have
the state authorities in California.
Even at desk-top level there are many Open Source applications
making their mark, such as Ximian Evolution. This package can access
MS exchange servers and has advanced groupware features, such as
meeting requests, personal information management (PIM) facilitating
links with Palm Pilots and other PDAs as well as Windows CE devices.
Open Office is another package gaining in popularity because it
is 99% compatible will all MS Office files.
So, where does the smart money play?
One of the most prevalent arguments for Linux is that its applications
can run on older, often outdated machines.
This is an important benefit for cash strapped small and medium
(SME) sized enterprises that increasingly characterise the business
landscape in South Africa.
Other advantages of Linux include improved task-based functionality
and better support for multi-user environments.
Finally, vendor independence is also a key issue. The number of
Linux-orientated companies is growing exponentially.
Access to more resellers – and marketplace competition - can assist
users to gain increased performance at minimal cost, always a key
benefit for any company.
Computer Associates International, Inc. (NYSE:CA),
one of the world's largest management software companies, delivers
software and services across operations, security, storage, life
cycle and service management to optimize the performance, reliability
and efficiency of enterprise IT environments. Founded in 1976,
CA is headquartered in Islandia, N.Y., and serves customers in
more than 140 countries. For more information, please visit http://ca.com.
For more information, please contact:
Tel: (011) 236-9111
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