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UK public sector open source adoption falling well behind other major economies [March 23, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, March 23, 2012
,
Vital Online

The UK Government recently launched an open source toolkit on the Cabinet Office website, to provide a level playing field for open source solutions against traditional proprietary software vendors. But Jim Shaw, general manager for Europe at Acquia believes that cultural barriers and unfounded fears about the technology are holding departments back from making huge savings.

IT industry wants infrastructure, tax breaks and SME support from Budget [March 21, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
,
CIO

Chancellor George Osborne will announce the Budget at midday tomorrow, and IT businesses are calling for useful tax breaks and good national infrastructure, with support for small enterprises.

The government needed to ensure the UK has the right technical infrastructure in place to support business growth, according to Morag Lucey, senior VP at converged IT and billing firm Convergys Smart Revenue Solutions.

"We will be specifically hoping that the government finally puts its money where its mouth is and invests more in the rollout of superfast broadband in the UK," she said.

There was "a sizeable gap between the money committed by the public sector and the private sector" for broadband, she said. "There is a questionable commercial case for communications service providers to bridge that gap alone, but absolutely no question as to the societal and economic benefits the UK will reap from universally-available superfast broadband."

Open source software providers also expressed their frustration at the perceived barriers to non-proprietary system adoption, and said the government needed to tackle the problem.

Jim Shaw, general manager for Europe at Acquia, said that in spite of the government recently launching an open source toolkit on the Cabinet Office website in order to provide a level playing field, cultural barriers were holding departments back from making the change.

"An entrenched culture of scepticism against open source adoption is still rife in the public sector and these barriers need to be broken down for the huge range of benefits the technology offers to be realised," he said. In spite of open source systems powering the Cabinet Office website and some DirectGov services, as well as Transport for London's Oystercard using an open source infrastructure, he said, the UK trailed the US and France for adoption.

"With potentially huge savings to be made through efficient public sector IT initiatives, the UK cannot afford to maintain a lukewarm approach to open source adoption."

Small businesses said the Chancellor needed to offer them tax breaks, as well as assisting with effective ways to prevent late payment by their suppliers.

David Ballard, chief executive at IT consultancy Northdoor, said the government needed to consider "lowering the threshold for entrepreneurial relief to encourage a greater distribution of stake ownerships and including smaller owners or employees". He added: "Although there is increasingly generous relief for entrepreneurs, the government has set a 5 percent minimum stake to qualify for ownership."

The Budget needed to reflect the fact that "many of the green shoots we have seen recently have come from smaller businesses, such as the tech start-ups in London's Silicon Roundabout", he added.

The Forum of Private Business said the Chancellor must tackle late payment, as well as provide better information for supporting the new National Loan Guarantee Scheme that is aimed at ensuring businesses can access credit.

"Small business owners are being expected to drive the economy forward yet find that relentless cost increases, mounting late payments and continued credit restrictions severely hinder their ability to control cash flow," said FPB senior policy adviser Alex Jackman. "Cash is the lifeblood of any business and there must be definite action in the Budget if we are to mend this cash flow crisis among small firms."

While the National Loan Guarantee Scheme was "a welcome step towards bringing down the steep cost of lending", Jackman said the UK industry needs "more competition allowing non-bank funders to compete more effectively in small business finance markets dominated by the big banks".

"Particularly, we want support for innovative crowdsourced funding models that are less dependent on automated risk criteria, the over-reliance on these being a central criticism levelled at major lenders in recent years," he said.

Annette Iafrate, managing director at online marketing firm Constant Contact, said access to credit needed to be under a "simple, clear-cut scheme" that operated quickly.

Small businesses could help greatly with national job creation, given the right resources, Ballard at Northdoor said. "I would also like to see a Budget supporting SMEs in developing and deploying their own graduate programmes, which unlike large corporations, have relatively limited resources and experiences in developing such schemes."

Gary Stewart, director at IT and business change organisation Xceed, agreed. "If the government hopes to encourage private businesses to take up the slack of public sector redundancies then they need to give them the tools to become job creators. The restrictions of red tape, regulation, poor availability of credit and tax burdens all need to be stripped back if SMBs are to help bolster economic growth."

DrupalCon Denver Keynote: Focus on Mobile, Innovation #drupalcon [March 21, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
,
CMS Wire

In his morning keynote, open source CMS Drupal creator Dries Buytaert offered a vision of what to expect at this week's DrupalCon, and explained the expectations for Drupal 8.

Before introducing Buytaert at the morning keynote, Jacob Redding, Executive Director of the Drupal Association, answered the question of who owns Drupal, the popular open source content management system. “You do," he said. "You own Drupal. Whenever you contribute code you become a collective owner." Redding says that the goal of the Drupal Association is to foster the growth of Drupal and its community. One of his slides showed one of the 22 Drupal servers housed at the OSU Open Source Lab. “We want to make you guys rock,” he said.

Keynote Focus

Buytaert took the stage next and said, “What I wanted to talk about today is winning the hearts and minds.” He discussed past products that have won “hearts and minds,” such as Kodak products, and he looked at current innovators, including Facebook and Google. Buytaert says that the difference between innovators of the past and the current companies is continuous innovation. Kodak, he says, invented digital photography but never capitalized on the company's invention by reinventing itself. “This reminds us to continue to embrace big changes,” he says.

According to Buytaert, Drupal 8 is in the development phase, whereas Drupal 7 just reached the maturity phase. Drupal 5 and 6 are now on the decline. In fact, Drupal 7 grew 2.5 times faster than Drupal 6, growth that was measured by how fast Drupal 7 reached 100,000 installations. Because Drupal is just one product, each version must be innovative and better than the previous version to stay relevant. Mobile, according to Buytaert, is a threat to Drupal, so it shouldn't be seen as just an afterthought.

What Keeps Buytaert Up at Night

Buytaert says that the rudimentary authoring system is a weakness for Drupal. In the past, IT departments were involved in the CMS selection process, but now content authors have a strong say in which system gets chosen, so the emphasis needs to be on the authoring experience. He also says that the aging web development framework is a weakness. The small Drupal talent pool is also a problem, but the Drupal Association is making it a priority with outreach efforts, such as Google Summer of Code participation.

An estimated 1.5 million sites are built on Drupal, but Buytaert points out that that's only 6.7% of all CMS sites. Only about 30% of all sites are even built on a CMS. Buytaert says the biggest opportunity for Drupal is in mobile, then he showed a slide that said, “Time to kick ass with Drupal 8.”

What to Expect in Drupal 8

Drupal's creator says that Drupal 8 will focus on three audiences: developers, site visitors and authors. Buytaert says that although Drupal is currently the most powerful CMS, the market is changing and Drupal needs to take this opportunity to reposition and reinvent itself to be a leader of tomorrow.

When it comes to site visitors, “We need to build a great mobile experience,” Buytaert says. "We need to do it before the rest of the world does it,” he adds. “We need to build Drupal so that it's ready by the time the rest of the world wants it.” Although Drupal wins on technical merits, Buytaert says that if you look at the authoring experience, “Frankly, most of the other systems are better.” In-line editing is a particular weakness, he explains.

Buytaert says that content authoring can be easier if more is added to Drupal 8 core, such as more in-line editing, improved content admin tools, better media support, and page and layout building tools. He says that this will make the core bigger, but it needs to remain pluggable. He acknowledges that it's difficult to get consensus on what is good user experience, and what belongs in the core or doesn't.

Drupal 8 is targeted for release in August 2013 at the DrupalCon Europe event. According to Buytaert, Drupal 8 needs to focus on authors, site visitors and developers, which are key to winning hearts and minds.

Drupal: 10 Years Later #drupalcon [March 21, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
,
CMS Wire

Later today, Acquia is releasing an infographic that illustrates 10 years of Drupal growth, from the dorm room to the boardroom — and we got an exclusive early look at Acquia's look back.

Since its creation in a dorm room back in 2001, Drupal has grown into a community of thousands of users from around the world. Acquia's infographic helps illustrate exactly how impressive Drupal's growth and community involvement have been.

Drupal Matures

This week at DrupalCon, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert gave the first keynote. In his talk, Buytaert set the tone for the week's events, which have a strong focus on mobile and the user experience. Buytaert says that Drupal 7, which was adopted faster than any previous Drupal release, has reached the maturity phase of its growth. Drupal 8 is planned to roll out in August next year, and according to Buytaert, we can expect great things from the next release. Buytaert wants to win hearts and minds, and to do that, Drupal needs to continue to be innovative, particularly when it comes to mobile.

Talent Pool

Although 16,000+ developers continue to improve Drupal, there's still a talent shortage. In fact, Acquia addressed the issue last year when the company announced Acquia U, a training and placement program for Drupal developers.

Yesterday I spoke with Bryan House, Vice President of Marketing at Acquia about the young training program. House says that eight new developers are in the Acquia U program, and currently they are going through six weeks of rotations through the engineering, customer support and professional services groups. He says the next iteration of the program will start in September, and Acquia hopes to extend the training program to the company's partners in the near future.

Drupal Stats

Drupal now boasts more than 1,400 themes on Drupal.org and 15,000 available modules, with availability in 181 languages. DrupalCon events have been held in Amsterdam, Portland, Antwerp, Brussels, Sunnyvale, Barcelona, Boston, Szeged, Washington D.C., Paris, Copenhagen, San Francisco, Chicago, London and Denver. Forty Drupal developers attended DrupalCon in Antwerp back in 2005, whereas 3,000+ developers gathered in Denver this week.

Buytaert says he wants Drupal to win hearts and minds, but according to its success laid out in an infographic, Drupal already has.

Drupal Growth Infographic

Cost cutting: the open source solution? [March 20, 2012]

Submitted on
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
,
Electronics Sourcing

UK Budget Must Encourage Open Source Adoption to Cut Costs - UK public sector open source adoption falling well behind other major economies.

Opinion: It’s time to open-source the Big Society [March 2, 2012]

Submitted on
Friday, March 2, 2012
,
Computing

The government’s Big Society initiative has much in common with the philosophy that underpins the open-source community, which has delivered innovative solutions through collaborative working.
This empowerment for the greater good fits perfectly with the government’s agenda to enable individuals, charities and communities to work together to improve society. So it is ironic that the open-source community involvement in the UK public sector is lagging so far behind other European countries, such as France.

Granted, there are some examples of open-source adoption: Drupal is the chosen platform for the Cabinet Office and the london.gov.uk site. But these are still in the minority when compared to the use of proprietary software vendors.
To its credit, the government recently launched the first formal open-source toolkit of guidance and advice to help decision makers weigh up the pros and cons of open-source adoption. This level playing field should enable developers to gain a foothold in delivering public-sector projects and allow them to be evaluated equally against the more traditional software providers.

Read more: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/opinion/2156381/opinion-it-s-source-society

Security: How the world's largest open source CMS combines open & security

Drupal is a huge software project by any measure, with thousands of developers writing code for it and deploying websites and applications on it. It is one of the largest open source projects in the world, alongside Linux, Apache, and Mozilla. This infographic helps explain the important work of Drupal's Security Team.

Bigger is not always better [Feb 22, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
,
CRN

Small technology providers can and should compete more for public sector and enterprise deals, claims Jim Shaw.

Drupal: How a dorm room tech project became a global phenomenon [Feb 15, 2012]

Submitted on
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
,
Tech Republic

The creator of the CMS Drupal reveals how the platform got started by accident and why being open source is the key to its success.

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