Score one for the UK government. They announced plans to use open source wherever possible. This is very exciting news for the open source community. It seems like there has been a significant uptick in open source for infrastructure and servers, and this is only just the most recent one I have seen. From the article:
…Open source can help avoid many of the hidden costs of proprietary software such as making organisations re-pay for licenses if they want to shift use of a particular piece of software from one place to another.
That is one of my biggest problems with closed source products. Long license keys and if you do even the slightest thing to your computer you have to re-register the product, and what if you buy the Mac version but later want to change to the Windows version? With open source you just download the software and install it, no registration, long serial numbers, or phone calls to tech support.
They also mentioned open standards and migrating services. Imagine the cost it would take to move 1000 users from Exchange to some other system or migrating from Active Directory to LDAP. And since both of the MS products are proprietary technology there would be no easy way to migrate users or email to either system. Open source does a good job at filling in the wholes, but if a user wanted to switch from Exim to Send Mail there would be no license or proprietary protocols to get in the way.
Which was another big thing the article brought up. Governments have all the resources they need to hire top notch professionals who could fix something should a problem occur. They mentioned that with open source they could freely change or adapt a program to meet their needs and not worry about licenses or patents. The article also mentioned some troubles they had with closed source software breaking and they weren’t able to fix it due to the closed nature.
To be fair open source has its problems. For instance, if closed source software goes down you usually, though not always, have someone to call that can eventually get the problem fixed, and with open source not all products offer such support, if any. However, I think from the article you will see a good balance and a realization that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Hopefully we will see this come to be.