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EX PER T I N S I GH T S :

LEVERAGING THE VALUE OF OPEN SOURCE IN GOVERNMENT An Interview With Gunnar Helleckson, Chief Technology Strategist, Red Hat

Open source is playing an essential role in shaping the agency of the future. Across government, agencies are leveraging open source to help fulfill mission needs at lower costs and increased productivity. “The role of open source is largely to commoditize and standardize technology, making it cheap and easily available to as many people as possible,” said Gunnar Hellekson, chief technology strategist at Red Hat’s U.S. public-sector business. We’ve seen the myriad ways agencies use open source. Hellekson provides another example: governmentfunded research. Researchers are not only using open-source technology, but at places such as NSF, it is required to aid in collaboration and knowledge sharing. “It’s been interesting to see open source evolve from something that agencies are afraid of or something that has to be dealt with to something that many organizations now see as an opportunity,” he said. When clients start to think about open source, Hellekson added, they are driven by a desire for reduced costs, but that shouldn’t be their only consideration he said. Open source also: „ „ Facilitates the ability to innovate faster. „ „ Provides more interoperability than proprietary software. „ „ Helps embrace and define open standards. „ „ Lets users work directly with developers of the software. In addition, open source is changing the way government engages with the private sector. “We are seeing more agencies and programs using open source as a meaningful way to do collaboration with their colleagues in the private sector, which is really exciting to see,” Hellekson said. “The biggest lesson learned is to not treat open source as something special,” he added. “When agencies start working with open source, they see licenses and acronyms they do not understand, and tend to put out guidance that is restrictive and actually hurts their adoption of open source.” “If you want to put special rules in place on how you can use open-source software, then chances are really good that you can put those rules in place for proprietary software as well, so don’t use open source as a special case,” Hellekson said. Red Hat helps make open source practical to use and assures that an agency’s software is stable, interoperable with other software and hardware, and certified to meet government criteria and provide support for specific government requirements. For advanced open-source users, Red Hat works with the open-source community to develop the right code, build security protections and lead an agency through open-source adoption.

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AGENCY OF THE FUTURE

Profile for GovLoop

Agency of the Future: Open Source  

Through GovLoop’s research initiatives to define the “agency of the future,” we have consistently found one important trend in government: o...

Agency of the Future: Open Source  

Through GovLoop’s research initiatives to define the “agency of the future,” we have consistently found one important trend in government: o...

Profile for govloop