Community Matters

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2006-02-13 Print this article Print

Boldman said her division approaches open source from three primary directions. First, "were responsible for running the states data center," she said. And she had to come to grips with the fact that 60 percent of Web applications run on Apache, "so why is it in the private sector and not in the state architecture, she said.
Secondly, "Were moving toward a service-oriented architecture and were looking at open standards, not so much open source," Boldman said. Among the reasons for moving to a SOA is "to achieve reuse," she said.
And the third reason the state is looking at open source is the aspect of a community, or developing and supporting software through a community model. Open-source advocates ask for patience in GPL 3 debate. Click here to read more. Boldman said governments have the concept of "open code." She defined open code as "code that governments paid for and own and can share with other governments, both state and local. We had companies coming to us selling the same software across 50 states. Thats not good use of taxpayers money." Meanwhile, Strasnick said his technical staff likes dealing with open-source companies because they like "to deal with software firms run by technical people and they can deal with technical people as opposed to marketing people." Reynolds said he considers himself a "very conservative" IT executive, in particular because the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration is strict. "The only open source we use is the Linux operating system, and we buy the packaged version from Red Hat," he said. "We need that one throat to choke," he said. "And having that as a foundation makes it easier for me to meet the validation requirements" placed on his company by the FDA. Kennedy said State Street has been using open-source software in its IT environment for five years, including JBoss, PHP and Linux, as well as corporate standard infrastructure from Oracle, IBM and others. Moreover, as the use of open-source software has increased, so has the need for more IT governance, the panelists said. "Im sort of a benevolent dictator," Strasnick said. "We have 400 developers across the world and any one of them can suggest a tool, but we have a team, and me, to decide whether we use it or not." Boldman said most of the states development "is through third parties. But as we do more and more of our own development, we know we need to do more governance." Other issues facing IT organizations around open source include software-as-a-service and security. "We dont trust software-as-a-service," Strasnick said. "We would never utilize software-as-a-service running on someone elses infrastructure." Regarding security, Kennedy said, "I dont trust my vendors any more than I trust open source, but I think we have more control [over open source software] because the code is open." Strasnick explained his view: "Theres been discussion that maybe people are putting back doors in open-source software. Realistically, I dont trust proprietary software any better." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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