Celebrating the Open Technology Foundation

Written By pcbolong on Saturday, September 24, 2011 | 9:23 PM

Max McLaren, Managing Director for Red Hat Australia and New Zealand

Open source, like any successful business should, relies on open collaboration and transparency as foundations. At Red Hat, our ethos is built on collaboration, as are our development and business models. Collaboration runs deep through our veins and our commitment to collaborating is relentless because it benefits everyone, users, partners and the open source community.

We believe in collaborating for the good of open source, and aspire to drive its adoption around the world in all layers of society.
A recent collaborative initiative is with the Open Technology Foundation (OTF), which recently launched in Australia with strong support from government and industry. Established with support from Carnegie Mellon University and South Australian Government, the OTF is an authoritative peak body for the Australian and New Zealand public sector and is focused on advancing the uptake of open technologies in all layers of Government.

At Red Hat we are convinced that basing our software on open standards and leveraging an open source development model is critical to delivering software that addresses key business requirements including flexibility, cost effectiveness and functionality, without ‘locking’ organisations into a single supplier's technology, or making it prohibitively difficult to integrate with, or migrate to, other suppliers' components.

With that said, we wholeheartedly support the principles of the OTF, especially in terms of identifying and supporting open technology developers and suppliers, and helping to align their solutions to Federal, State and Local Government requirements. A body like the OTF has been a long time coming in this part of the world, and perhaps that is because of the disparate and differing requirements of the various levels of Government, or because up until recent times open technology alternatives have not necessarily been viewed by all as valid options for Government.
Well, that’s no longer the case. While some government bodies, particularly in Brazil and the EU, have long favored open source and open standards, the prominent use of open technologies by the Obama Administration has raised awareness of the benefits of open source by governments around the world.

Australia has definitely felt the knock-on effect. Here, every Government department has a focus on reducing costs and a number of those have conducted budget reviews to identify areas where savings can be maximised. As a result, currently more than 80 departments are utilising open source in an effort to achieve maximum functionality at a substantially lower price.

Beyond the obvious cost benefits, open source is a smart choice for Government departments and agencies because it promotes collaboration through the deployment of standards and openness. Interoperability across various sectors of Government, and a strong adherence to standards, is also another way open source reduces the need to pour money into development and new equipment.

The public sector has certainly not escaped the cloud computing phenomenon and its potential is being investigated in datacentres right across Government. In an open source setting, cloud computing has the capacity to drive out even further costs – even in utility computing – and can reduce datacentre footprints, provide greater reliability and handle disaster recovery. Already, Red Hat is working with Government agencies to establish services within a private Government cloud – delivering all the benefits of cloud computing in a secure setting.

It is certainly our hope that with support from those with the vision and foresight to embrace all that open technologies have to offer, the OTF will be proactive in promoting these sorts of opportunities to Government.

One high profile advocate of open technology is Senator Kate Lundy, who holds the responsibilities of Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration Affairs. In a recent blog post about the launch of the OTF, the Senator commented “Open technologies, methods and standards all play an important role in the development of sustainable implementation strategies for open data, citizen-centric services and online public engagement.”

I look forward to working with the OTF to continue eliminating confusion and FUD through informing and enlightening.

Knowledge is power, so let’s share it.

For additional information about the Open Technology Foundation, visit http://otf.org.au.