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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

‘Open Source to save mankind by 2020’

THE 2008 Open World Forum conference in Paris ended at the weekend with experts projecting a brighter future that Open Source software will save mankind by 2020, financially.

According to the authors of the report, “2020 FLOSS Roadmap,” made a number of predictions about the role of Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) in the next 12 years with an estimated 80 per cent recommendations for the industry.

IDG News Service reports that the use of the French word “libre” as in free is in ‘unfettered’ terms to clears up the ambiguity in the English word “free,” which could also mean without cost.

The report also stated the optimism that by 2020 FLOSS will have entered the mainstream of the software industry and contributed to reducing the digital divide between rich and poor.

“Social networks will rely on ubiquitous, open cloud-computing services and will allow people to interact not just with friends, but also with governments and businesses,” the authors said.

Stressing that vendor lock-in worry will facilitate the use and acceptance of FLOSS, and such software will be at the heart of green data centres and other business models with low ecological impacts.

Investors, legislators, educators, electors and even consumers, the report projected will also have a role to play.

“Governments must favour open standards and open services,” they said, so as to make this prediction a reality.

Thus is not just a matter of ideology, but also of necessity if data is to be exchanged between different services and systems.

This, they further said, requires a stable and neutral legal context in which a clear definition of open standards and services could be made and imposed.

“Clear legal frameworks could also help avoid the proliferation of software licenses,” the report said.

Investors, whether state or private, should fund research leading to the development of strategic FLOSS technologies, and governments and businesses should set up academic and professional training programs to educate a new generation of software developers about FLOSS.

There are some risks ahead, said the authors, including experts from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Spain and the US, although the majority of them are French.

Among those risks, is the use of cloud-computing capacity on the scale required by some government systems which will result in an over-reliance on a small group of powerful suppliers.

This, they warned, could signal a return to the era of monopolies in some markets, with the risk that entire countries could be held ransom by their service providers.
In addition, organisations unable to pay the price for these elite services could be left running on unreliable or unsecure, second-class systems.



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