The State IT Agency (SITA) is transferring its entire technology infrastructure to free, open source and open standards software (FOSS).
SITA CEO Llewellyn Jones says the organisation hopes to complete this process within the next four to five months.
“We are doing a lot around FOSS within our organisation. In terms of our back-end environment, we are already using open source to a large extent. Now we are focusing on our user environment; open source offerings are just as good as – and sometimes even better than – their proprietary competitors,” he explains.
The organisation’s chief information officer, Eghshaan Khan, says this is a positive move for SITA, but admits he has some concerns.
“This movement proves again that open source or FOSS is not a myth. We embrace the principles of FOSS: interoperability, building communities and sharing. The one concern I have though is change management. We are confident the software portfolio we have chosen is just as good, if not better, than what our people have been working on; but, they need to discover this for themselves in order to buy into the project,” he explains.
SITA has chosen Ubuntu for its desktop operating environment. Running on top of this will be open office, as well as several other FOSS applications, aimed at improving SITA’s collaborative and engagement environments.
SITA’s transition to FOSS is seen as an important step in its promotion of open standards to government departments.
Jones explains: “How can we encourage our customers to adopt FOSS when we ourselves are not far enough advanced with our transition? Yes, we have seen Cabinet adopt an open source policy; but our responsibility is to be a proof point to our public sector customers.”
Despite government’s policy on FOSS, Jones says the agency has received mixed reactions from its customers on adopting open source software.
“The question is always going to be around comfort levels and interoperability concerns. Some departments already have strong open source philosophies, like Home Affairs, while others would rather delay as long as possible.”