The CIO Show: Is open source really cheaper in Australia?

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Open source has been a perennial hot topic for well over 20 years, ever since the Linux penguin sought to befriend everyone from the enterprise, SMEs and the media, with its happy story of data democratisation and an end to expensive and difficult to bend proprietary systems.

No doubt captivated by this long-held dream, analysts report many more organisations moved to embrace open source last year in response to the sudden explosion of unique digital problems which they hoped to solve using broader communities of developers, ideally for less cost.

But just like the conversation as to whether the cloud is actually cheaper than on premise, the question is equally if not more complex and nuanced in the open source space.

As Mark O’Neill, Gartner VP analyst covering in open source within the software engineering space notes, it’s easy to think of open source as cheaper “if you don’t value time”. He has some cunning advice for how CIOs can help keep vendors on their toes by introducing open source into their conversations, as well as on how to navigate the altogether different and evolving licensing landscape.

Founder of Melbourne-based Cyber IT Solutions and long-standing open source strategist, Con Zymaris, says while cost is a critical consideration, making an intelligent assessment of open source investments demands a broader view that takes account for instance, of the technology as a means of risk mitigation and digital ‘hedging.”

Just ponder a hypothetical scenario where a major cloud provider chucks a ‘Zuckerberg’ and restricts access to its platform? An organisation with an organised open source environment and skilled team would weather the storm better than others.

And Sae Ra, president of Linux Australia explains how open source is becoming standard across government agencies, while giving us some insight into her work with an NFP trying to address the lack of file standards across the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector, and the critical importance of proper ‘digital preservation’ for all organisations.

She also has an interesting take on what the Federal Government’s ‘Assistance and Access Act’ means for open source developers.


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