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Local Governments And Open Source: Lost in The Cloud

by Andrea Di Maio  |  March 27, 2009  |  1 Comment

This afternoon I gave a short presentation about open source in the public sector to a group of CIOs from European cities. I told them how I’ve gradually seen the emotional and “religious” arguments behind open source being replaced by more rational cost and vendor independence considerations, and I pointed to the recent UK open source policy (analysis here for Gartner clients) as an example of a balanced position based on best value for money.

One question was about the role of open source for small local authorities, which have limited financial resources and scarce IT technical and management resources. The argument in favor of open source has always been the very low cost of access (for what concerns systems software or generic packages, such as office applications) and the ability to create communities to reuse vertical open-source applications (such as ADULLACT or Plone.gov).

Reality is that small local governments would just like to forget about IT. Whether via consolidation, or shared service, or  through commoditized solutions accessible as a service, they need to focus time and attention on what really matters to their citizens and – let’s face it – IT does not matter as much as other areas, especially these days.

Whether to use open source or proprietary software is just too far away from their everyday priorities. If somebody can provide them with what they need at a price they can afford and with the skills they have, they’ll take it, doesn’t matter if proprietary or open source. In this market , the potential for commoditized, consumer-like solutions in areas like portals, email, office solutions is huge. And so is the potential for other cloud-related propositions, such as maps, multimedia storage, and social media in general.

Sure many of this run on open source, but will local authorities care? I doubt it.

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Category: cloud  open-source-in-government  

Tags: cost-cutting  local-government  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies, open government, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Local Governments And Open Source: Lost in The Cloud


  1. […] a client conversation this morning confirmed my suspicion that they may be on a crash course, as I already wrote a few months ago. I was chatting with a CIO from a local authority in the UK and we were discussing about the […]



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