One of the biggest trends today in the government sector is high demand for open source software. If you're an MSP, it's time to take notice.
Traditionally, open source was not a major part of IT operations for government agencies, at least in the United States. If you look at the list of the top 100 IT contractors for the federal government in 2016, you won't see any names associated with open source software. What you will notice are several hardware and software companies that deal mostly with closed source code, such as Microsoft, IBM and Cisco.
But there are signs that the times are changing. Consider the following recent developments:
- In August, the federal government mandated that at least 20 percent of software developed by federal agencies be released as open source. The White House is already making good on that commitment by doing things like open sourcing the president's Facebook messenger bot.
- California recently launched an open data platform built on open source code.
- Wyoming has begun an effort to collect open code for reuse among state agencies.
- A draft law in the Netherlands is poised to make open standards mandatory for the government.
- France just implemented a "Digital Republic" law, which extends the list of government documents that must be released under certain circumstances to include source code.
- Even the Russian government recently expressed an interest in going open source.
Events like these are a pretty good indication that open source software is poised to become an increasing subject of interest for government agencies large and small, in the United States and beyond.
What does that mean for MSPs? The answer is clear enough. They should make sure that they are investing in open source software for building their services and infrastructure, if they are not already. While most of the initiatives cited above involve open sourcing the code that government agencies use themselves, some of them also suggest that governments will increasingly favor open source foundations for any technology they consume, even if the technology is delivered to them by a third party, such as an MSP.
Add to that all the other reasons for favoring open source solutions -- they tend to cost less, are more extensible, don't lock you into particular vendors, and so on -- and embracing open source is a no-brainer for MSPs.
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