Open source overrated by U.K. conservatives?

The U.K. Tory party is promising huge benefits to adopting open-source software, including immediately saving 600 million pounds, but it may be overpromising simply to win a vote.

President Barack Obama recently made waves by tapping Sun Microsystems' chairman to pen a white paper on the benefits of open source.

Not to be outdone, Britain's Tory (conservative) party is now suggesting that it will, if elected, shift to open source to save an immediate 600 million British pounds (about $858 million).

While I support any organization's greater adoption of open source, the Tories seem to be treating open source like a campaign slogan, rather than a thoughtful IT-purchasing policy. (As a conservative, it pains me to have to write that. :-))

Yes, open source can save organizations a great deal of money and provide greater IT flexibility, as Nestle recently discovered with its own open-source adoption . But open source is not an immediate panacea, and promoting it as such will only end up blackening the eye of open source, if the cost savings aren't immediately delivered.

There was a time when it was enough to market open source without backing up the slogans. That time has passed. Open source delivers real business value. It can stand on its own merits without politicians promising the moon.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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