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Waving an Open Source Flag in Australian Government


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A discussion on the past 8 years of work with the Australian Government to increase Open Source participation and change IT Procurement Law

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Waving an Open Source Flag in Australian Government

  1. 1. Waving an Open Source Flag in Government The Highs, The Lows and Community Code Aimee Maree Forsstrom @aimee_maree
  2. 2. Who Am I and Why Am I Here Worked in Information Technology since 2000 Been a Linux user since 1997 Early advocate for Open Source in Australian enterprise and government Contributions to Content Management Systems and Linux administration Dual bachelors degree with honours in IT and programming Post graduate studies in law and licensing Board member of Open Source Industry Australia
  3. 3. Eight Years Ago Very different scene Most Government Departments were “Microsoft Shops” Linux servers not the norm in government Proprietary Content Management Systems Licensing fees where in abunbance Tenders favoured “Closed Source Systems”
  4. 4. Lets Start With a Story
  5. 5. In 2008 The Bat Phone Rings “We need you to rescue a project”
  6. 6. Putting Out Fires On a Navy Ship At War
  7. 7. In Comes Linux Very different scene Microsoft servers and Microsoft admins “Will it run on MSSQL?” Our new web applications ran on Linux This meant we needed Linux servers But we had no Linux admins? The development team became the admins
  8. 8. Breaking The Open Source Myth But people had their “concerns” Security concerns Licensing jargon Support issues Do we need to release all the things?
  9. 9. Building Teams Skill sets require new ways of approaching hiring Traditional recruiters did not understand needs New technology with a small pool of people Seek out community groups We went grass roots Who was contributing and what Not just code but documentation Who was willing to learn new skills
  10. 10. Support Subscriptions Even with support subscriptions Always requires hands on the code No more can you throw it to a company to fix But this adds so much value for peoples growth
  11. 11. You Mean It's In The Open? Lawyers could not understand Academics were afraid Lawyers where scared Management was unaware what this meant Academics needed a new model of sharing We needed champions to advocate to people
  12. 12. Open Source and Open Standards Teaching people what Open Source means Getting contributions going with patches Creative Commons on documentation Creative Commons on web content
  13. 13. Where The Story Ended or Started? This was the first big Linux and Open Source software implementation that was in the public eye Disclaimer: **If this did happen before there was no one talking about it What came out of this was a clear need for federal government level policy change
  14. 14. Policy Changes Needed to Occur In January 2011, the Australian government released a policy requiring agencies to consider open source software for all software procurements. Applied to all ICT procurement after 1 March 2011. Open Source software policy requires agencies to consider Open Source software in relation to any approach to market to acquire software. Department of Finance Australian Federal Government
  15. 15. Three Principles For Open Source Principle 1: Australian government ICT procurement processes must actively and fairly consider all types of available software. Principle 2: Suppliers must consider all types of available software when dealing with Australian government agencies. Principle 3: Australian government agencies will actively participate in Open Source software communities and contribute back where appropriate.
  16. 16. This Ushered In a New Era of Change
  17. 17. New Ways of Managing Code Traditional companies are used to purchasing a code base that has yearly (if) update cycles We moved into a moving target Drupal, like all OSS, requires constant updates RHEL, unlike Windows servers utilizes a package management system so again constant updates You need to implement a release cycle based on days, not months or years (in some cases)
  18. 18. Freedom For Developers Development of plugins or addins for proprietary systems like Aptrix would take months We reduced this to two weeks Developers are not the issue Developers want to see what is under the hood Give your developers the source code and they will love you for it
  19. 19. Reduction of Time To Market For marketing it means faster updates For management it means keeping up the pace Where you replace propietary codebases you move from: Four month release cycles Weekly release cycles Daily release cycles
  20. 20. Return On Investment "The proprietary solutions require increasing fees, require expensive support or maintenance costs, and often the more advanced or popular features — the ones that really make a business difference — require so much investment of time and were so hard to get people to do that in some cases, it is prohibitively expensive or impossible to get out of once you're in." John Sherriden – Department of Finance 2012
  21. 21. No Vendor Lock-In Open Source enables no vendor lock-in Move away from old busines models Open Source code bases can be hosted by anyone and can be supported by a variety of companies Removed the government away from a single point of vendor failure We could seek support from RedHat. We could also seek support from Linux based agencies
  22. 22. DevOps Allows for faster cultural change Helped break out of silos of Dev and Ops Closer working of internal departments Greater collaboration of internal departments Allowed for the beginings of traditionally siloed departments to share code, knowledge and hardware
  23. 23. Here Comes The Clouds The cloud lead to great innovation and change Break out of traditional operations requests Put the power into the developers hands Reduce Total Cost of Ownership Started with Amazon opening up a data center in Australia and from the get-go ensuring they meet government standards No need to spend months on vetting documentation when we could have a dev environment in one day
  24. 24. Consolidation of Resources This has lead to consilidation projects Current NSW initiative is the GOVDC This is a Government Data Centre that also has a Government Marketplace All these services are pre vetted and meet procurement initatives and security requirments Various companies involved so you can move between vendors in the DC
  25. 25. Custom Code in a Propietary World NSW State Library WOSIP 14 systems integrating to create one web portal World class standard Mixed licensing models GPL – CopyLeft Permissive Proprietary
  26. 26. Slow and Steady Wins The Race Tortise and the Hare Incremental changes Needs for a new development environment This has been made easier with DevOps culture
  27. 27. Before DevOps Linux on the desktop was a scary idea How do you convince mangement “File systems and permissions” “Replication of production ennvironment” We started with virtual machines Eight years later…
  28. 28. New Business Models
  29. 29. Breaking Down The Silos
  30. 30. Open Data for Citizen Engagement First Gov Hack Day 2009 – Thanks Steve King Started small Growth was inevitable – Thanks Pia Waugh This year was our first Cultural Data Hack ran by the NSW State Libary – Thanks team!
  31. 31. You Will Not Always Get to the Goal Post
  32. 32. But Planting Seeds Is Most Important “We catalyze direction. That means you are the agent that makes something happen, but it’s your role to do this in an indirect way. It’s my job to say, ‘This is the hill we want to take, and here’s why,’ and then let the organization take over from there.” Jim Whitehurst RedHat CEO
  33. 33. Its a Hard Job But Someone Has To Do It Long meetings Lots of lawyers and legal speak Providing the dream of where you're heading Holding hands Happy developers Happy operations Change in management models
  34. 34. Dont Be Discouraged All this leads to greater citizen engagement Reduction in overall operating costs and time to market And more Open Data