Ireland Open to Open Source

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-12-12 Print this article Print

Government plans nationwide centers of excellence.

Irelands government is the latest in Europe to consider embracing Linux and open-source software, with initiatives under way to create nationwide Open Source Centers of Excellence.

The centers would provide expertise to examine the use of open-source software going forward, government officials said last week. Momentum, a trade association representing some 170 of Northern Irelands technology companies, is spearheading the initiative and wants the centers to span both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"We are also planning to hold the great open-source debate next year, which will look at how free and open-source technology, as a disruptive technology, has changed the way the software industry does business and the new opportunities it has spawned," said Ian Graham, Momentums chief executive, in an interview here.

"Disruptive business models like this offer real opportunities for those smaller, more niche-oriented software companies," Graham said. "But there still needs to be better integration between all of the component parts, product streams and all the organizations that have sprung up around this, like the Open Source Development Labs [Inc.]."

The Irish governments plan follows a similar one by the British government, whose Office of Government Commerce last year issued a report that said open-source software is a viable and credible alternative to proprietary software for infrastructure implementations and for meeting the requirements of most desktop users.

Another OGC report, also released last year and titled "Open Source Software Use Within the UK Government," said the British government will consider open-source software solutions alongside proprietary offerings in IT procurements.

Contracts will be awarded on a value-for-money basis, and the British government will use for interoperability only those products that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments. The government will also seek to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services, the report said.

Bob McClean, sales and marketing director for Asidua Ltd., a company based here that offers embedded system integration and consulting services, said there is a drive in the embedded systems world toward Linux as the operating system of choice. That move is the result of developers gaining a level of trust in Linux and a belief in the advantages of using it.

Asidua started using Linux in a serious way some 18 months ago, when its customers started adopting the operating system in a widespread manner.

"We are now integrating code that has not been developed by us or our customers into products and solutions for the first time," said McClean. "Our customers no longer see Linux as having a high-risk profile, which, added to its cost benefits, makes it an attractive proposition."

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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