Oracle Won’t Block Open Source In The Public Sector

Oracle has claimed that open source increases risk. The evidence points otherwise, says Ed Boyajian

Last year, Oracle flamed out in its attempt to stall the adoption of open source technology by the US Department of Defense (DoD) when a  White Paper surfaced, in which Oracle warns the DoD about the dangers of hidden costs and inefficiency of open source software, and tries to explain the proper handling of such technology.

The bottom line message to the DoD was essentially: “It’s too dangerous, so let us handle the open source; we’ll give it to you through our products”.’ But what the White Paper doesn’t mention is that by choosing Oracle, the DoD robs itself of the freedom and flexibility associated with open source technology.

us government capitol   kropic1Seriously, did Oracle expect to be believed?

It’s doubtful that Oracle truly expected the DoD would take its advice and immediately stop using open source technology. With some of the strongest tech minds in US government, the DoD is already clued in to the benefits of open source technology.

Governments all over the world, in fact, have taken huge steps towards the adoption of open source technology. The UK government is a great example of a public sector body that is aggressively implementing open standards policies. This was demonstrated recently by the issuance of the Government Service Design Manual mandating a preference for open source software for future developments. Furthermore, the European Commission (EC) recently acknowledged the role of open source and open standards in innovation.

Despite Oracle’s harsh assessment of open source technology, many federal IT directors in the US are actively seeking to increase their use of open source technologies as a way of remaining up-to-date with evolving technology trends. The benefits of open source – cost reductions, greater flexibility and freedom from vendor lock-in – have already been widely documented. It’s for these reasons, and more, that so many government leaders around the world have been turning to open source.

Open source-based products are less expensive not because they do less but because they leverage a more efficient development-to-market business model. Using Postgres as an example, the move toward open source is fast expanding into the database layer as organisations discover they can operate 60 percent or more of their applications for 80 to 90 percent less than proprietary solutions. That’s effectively 60 percent  of your business for 1 percent of your budget.

Oracle’s White Paper directly addresses government agencies to make them doubt the capabilities offered by open source technologies. It does this by stating that by deploying open source solutions, the overall risk factors increase. What the White Paper doesn’t mention is the trust that has quickly and steadily been established with these government agencies. It’s too late. IT Directors have seen the opportunities offered by open source suppliers and have the confidence to use solutions which have already been thoroughly tested by a range of organisations.

More than 40 federal and government agencies are have already implemented open source Postgres database technology with the help of vendors, including the likes of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Labor and multiple agencies throughout the Department of Defense (DoD). The number continues to grow.

Simply put, without the widespread availability of open source technology, government agencies would be under even greater financial strain than they are already. By deploying open source technologies like Postgres, which can be built around the specific needs of any organisation, governments have access to technology that is fully scalable and compatible with offerings provided by Oracle and other proprietary suppliers.

With all these advantages we fully expect government agencies to continue to expand their use of open source technology, no matter what Oracle has to say about open source.

Ed Boyajian is President and CEO of EnterpriseDB