Tuesday, a group of C-level executives and developers from open source companies and organizations in the U.S. published a letter to President Obama. Open Solutions Alliance President Anthony Gold, Collaborative Software Initiative CEO Stuart Cohen, Alfresco CEO John Powell, Hyperic CEO Javier Soltero and Jaspersoft CEO Brian Gentile are just a few of the signatories whose names are familar.
The letter urges Obama to consider open source solutions in his efforts to move U.S. medical records to digital form, and in "other government-funded technology projects." Here's an excerpt:
Mr. President, we believe the open source industry is changing the world of software development in many of the ways you have promised to change American politics. The values of open source mirror those you promoted in your campaign: hope, change, and openness. We, the undersigned, sincerely hope that you will make the use of open source software a key component of every new technology initiative the United States government enters into during your presidency.
At first blush, I thought, "Well, at least the President is hearing from others besides Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy on the open source issue." But Ars Technica's Ryan Paul makes an interesting point:
The fact that the letter has been authored by commercial open source software vendors, however, makes it seem a bit more like an advertisement than a sincere attempt to guide open source policy.
True, Ryan. Very true. But some open source supporters out there really are more concerned about how a particular application is developed and whether it will meet needs cost-effectively than whose product it is.
For example, not long ago I had a conversation with Dugan Petty, CIO for the State of Oregon. Above all, his biggest concern was this:
Particularly in the economic downturn that we live in, the notion of us continuing to build large systems that are a little different in each state to meet similar needs, often driven by a federal partner, we're all questioning that. It seems to me that there's a huge opportunity in the communities around open source to begin to implement collaborative, community solutions that simply are a smart way of doing business.
It's the collaboration that is of most importance, I think.