Sunday, August 21, 2011

How can Govs help FOSS businesses

Dear Lazyweb,

A group of FOSS ambassadors (of which I am one) have been invited to visit government officials who are "interested" in open-source. The goal will be to pitch open-source and why adopting it would have various benefits on a national level.

A more specific point that should be discussed is How can the government help local FOSS businesses grow in order to help, support and grow a FOSS-oriented eco-system (Developers, Support professionals, VARs...)

If you were in that meeting, what points would you make ?



doctormo said...

I would make the following point:

Open Source is really driven by two core ideas, efficiency and control.

It is much more efficient to build on what has gone before, to extend and learn from work already done. Doing the same work over and over again is wasteful.

The user gets to have total control over their software. This includes both the production and the support/maintenance. Allowing consumers of software to choose between different developers and different support companies reduces costs. Control is important for users and much ignored by proprietary ecosystems.

There are some side issues (non core ideas) such as openness and transparency, building in the open where you can receive critical review from any interested party. Not being able to hide defects or malignancy from consumers.

Hope this helps.

Ahmed Kamal said...

Thanks that was helpful! I would also like to get more thoughts on growing the local foss ecosystem of businesses

Keep em coming folks

Uli said...

I think a very important argument to bring is not just the cost reduction itself (IT savings wont be huge in the short term because of migration costs), but that money invested in software will not have to go to a few big (American) corporations, but can instead be invested in local small and medium businesses. This is a huge advantage with open source, and an argument that I would imagine might be persuasive to politicians.

A good example to bring might be the Linux migration of the city of M√ľnchen (
They are doing many things right, they are migrating slowly, and switching all PCs to openoffice first.

Anonymous said...

If you want an economic point of view I'd mention that competition is key to functional markets and FLOSS is the best way to ensure competition. If a company is providing poor support, updates, maintenance, etc of software they have written, the very best thing to have is the source so that you can create a competing product (i.e. a fork) as cheaply as possible. This forces the developers of the software to provide excellent services or be out competed by those that will.

I might also mention the disconnect between the typical "sell a physical copy" economic system and digital goods. The reality is that copies are almost free but creating, testing and maintaining software is expensive. If your economic model is not focused on software services but instead is based on an indirect per-copy or per-license fee then that creates many economic problems (eg. backwards incompatibility, lock-in, adding features for sales purposes, etc). Free software is a much better economic model where the money flows along the real "landscape of costs", not some old model that works only for physical goods. Granted, this goes against the idea that people are entitled to be paid for work they have done in the past and replaces it with a system that requires people to be paid fairly for new work, which can then be shared freely. In addition this empowers the individual creators over the corporation.

Finally I'd mention that free access is uplifting and enriching. Without having to pay for software that has already been created it makes everyone (including governments, organizations and corporations) as though they were rich enough to have purchased all the free software available. If a government thinks that free access to books is important, then free access to software, as it begins to dominate all other markets, is even more important.

Seif said...

As a company you get to provide support/customization for others work. The open code base allows others to improve it and thus FOSS allows healthy COMPETITION. You are left with X companies that can help you with a solution instead of the same one over and over. FOSS allows branching of companies. The current Eco-system in Egypt is deemed to monopoly. And once monopoly in the IT business is reached there is no desire to be CREATIVE.