Skip to main content

Second Open Gov Summit looks at how open source & open standards are driving the Cloud Revolution

By Aingaran Pillai - 24th June 2013

Moving Ahead

Last year saw the first Open Gov Summit hosted by Zaizi. The London headquartered open source consultancy hosted the fully-booked Summit which attracted an eclectic audience that included open source pundits, public sector IT leaders, leads of open source projects, open source software vendors, consultants and journalists.

‘What we found last year’

3 Key themes emerged from the event

  • ‘Green shoots’ are appearing – Although the UK lags behind the US, European and BRIC countries in adopting open source in the public sector, ‘green shoots’ are starting to appear as more local councils like Bristol City Council and central government departments like the Cabinet Office, the Met Office and the Home Office champion its use through projects designed to inform and engage citizens.
  • Obstacles to adoption remain – A risk averse public sector culture combined with procurement red tape still prevents many open source providers, which have limited resources, from competing on a level playing field. Proprietary mega-vendors continue to lobby government relentlessly against moving to open source technology and perpetuate myths that technology is not secure or reliable. Also, many felt that UK schools and universities needed to adapt their IT curricula so that more young people develop open source skills.
  • Government will ultimately do the right thing – Despite the obstacles, most speakers and delegates agreed that the tide is turning and in due course, there will be so many high-profile case studies of open source being used in mission-critical public and private sector scenarios around the world that the UK not want to be exposed for failing to move with the times and take advantage of the huge potential savings to the taxpayer. The open source myths are being debunked as more private sector companies from Amazon to Google to the New York Stock Exchange run their mission-critical systems on open source software.

As we re-visit these themes we will look at how things have progressed over the last year and look into the wider issues CTOs now have to address in the push towards using open source and open standards. Tariq Rashid, IT Reform, Cabinet Office, states ‘open source and open standards technology is shifting from innovation to commodity’. We will look at what is driving this and how we are going to address these new developments at this year’s Open Gov Summit 2013 on the 25th of April.

‘The Way forward for Government’

Angela Smith, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office explains how the Government considers that in order to deliver its key objectives a programme of positive action is now needed to ensure that there is an effective ‘level playing field’ between open source and proprietary software and to realise the potential contribution open source software can make to wider aims of re­use and open standards. This programme needs to consist both of a more detailed statement of policies and of practical actions by government and its suppliers.

Source – Open Source, Open Standards and Re­Use: Government Action Plan.

The key objectives addressed by Angela will be to:

  • Ensure that the Government adopts open standards and uses these to communicate with the citizens and businesses that have adopted open source solutions.
  • Ensure that proper consideration of open source solutions is provided in procurement activity, and where they deliver best value for money (taking into account other advantages, such as reuse and flexibility) are selected for Government business solutions.
  • Strengthen the skills, experience and capabilities within Government and in its suppliers to use open source to greatest advantage.
  • Embed an ‘open source’ culture of sharing, re­use and collaborative development across Government and its suppliers, building on the re­use policies and processes already agreed within the CIO Council, and in doing so seek to stimulate innovation, reduce cost and risk, and improve speed to market.
  • Ensure that there are no procedural barriers to the adoption of open source products within government, paying particular regard to the different business models and supply chain relationships involved.
  • Ensure that systems integrators and proprietary software suppliers demonstrate the same flexibility and ability to re­use their solutions and products as is inherent in open source.

Engagement with SMEs

The role of small firms and of entrepreneurship is recognised as key to government’s economic policy and technology procurement.

StartUp Britain is a groundbreaking response from the private sector to the Government’s call for an ‘enterprise-led’ recovery. It will deliver the very best in support and advice for startup companies, led by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.

StartUp Britain will be a champion for the UK’s 270,000 businesses that start up every year aiming to help drive growth by accelerating, inspiring and celebrating Britain’s start-up talent.

It is fully supported by Prime Minister David Cameron and HM Government and has so far gathered the backing of significant international brands including Barclays, BlackBerry, Experian, Intel, Microsoft, McKinsey & Co. and Virgin Media.

A new online tool enabling small businesses to pitch their ideas on how they could do the business of government more cheaply or more efficiently. The best pitches will be handpicked by a community of civil servants and will receive intensive mentoring from several of Britain’s best entrepreneurs.

Source – Number 10 Downing Street | Official site for British Prime Ministers Office

‘Discover more at Open Gov Summit 2013’

With these new developments we are excited to be announcing that Tariq will be presenting and giving a rare insight into the changes occurring in IT as it is becoming increasingly commoditised and open. Tariq will provide insight into how Government CTOs can best steer their selection of technology and services to maximise value through competitive tension, choice and flexibility. It is about enabling government organisations to pick the best of breed solution for the right price and Tariq will provide insight into how Government can take advantage of these changes.

Gavin Beckett, Chief Enterprise Architect from Bristol City Council will also be sharing his story, drawing on their experiences in their innovative approach to government procurement process & how they are utilising open standards based cloud solutions.

We wrote about Bristol City Council’s open source success story last year. 

For a significant number of Government Departments, cloud computing is starting to be seen as a key influencer to transforming current and future services in the way in which they organise and procure their ICT systems. Join us to discuss how open source and open standards technology is driving the cloud revolution and how government organisations can benefit from it through open discussion, practical insight and user experiences.

Given all the information we have today, it is imperative that we take the next steps into discussing how we can really make these changes. You can do this today by registering for the Open Gov Summit that will be happening at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors on the 25th of April.


    About the author: Aingaran Pillai
    Aingaran Pillai is the Founder and CEO of Zaizi. Having worked on an Alfresco project in Government back in 2006, he liked the technology so much he started Zaizi to work on many more Alfresco implementations. Since then he has built Zaizi to be a leader in providing end-to-end digital solutions, specialising in business automation, open source technologies and cloud platforms. He provides thought leadership in the field of digital transformation in both the Public and Private Sector.