French tax office takes up open source

The French tax office chooses JBoss software to run its J2EE-based applications.

The French internal revenue service announced on Thursday that it has chosen JBoss's open-source application server to run the next version of its tax applications.

The move comes as part of a French ministry initiative called "Copernic" that will overhaul the entire information technology infrastructure of the country's tax system. The ministry considered tenders for a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application server. Although the tax agency did not reveal which companies JBoss bid against, it is thought that IBM's WebSphere, BEA's WebLogic and Oracle's business software were tendered.

Jean-Marie Lapeyre, Copernic's technical director, said a "detailed evaluation" had been conducted during the tender process, and JBoss was chosen because of its reliability and performance.

"The advantages of open source are already well-known: very low-cost (or free of charge) and source-code opening that guarantees the reliability, durability and security of these solutions," Lapeyre said.

The news comes a day after the city of Munich stalled its migration of 14,000 desktops from Microsoft Windows to Linux because of potential legal issues. Of late, government bodies in Europe and elsewhere have started to consider using open-source software instead of proprietary products in their systems.

James Governor, principal analyst at RedMonk, said the announcement is an important step forward for the open-source movement.

"There has been a lot of talk about European public-sector organizations adopting open-source technology, but it has been just talk. This is an announcement and a formal commitment to an open-source application server. That is why it is significant," Governor said.

IT services firm Atos Origin plans to support the JBoss system for at least three years.

Munir Kotadia of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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