Open source makes serious headway in the U.S. Department of Defense

If open source increasingly powers U.S. defense systems, and it does, isn't it time for more enterprises to follow suit?

As I listened to David Mihelcic, CTO with the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency talk about the benefits of open source on Federal News Radio's presentation of "Open Source Solutions - 2 Years In Review," I couldn't help but be impressed with just how far open source has come in the past decade.

When I first got involved with open source back in 1998, it was perceived as risky (Rampant fear of the GPL and other open-source licenses), not secure (How can community development take care to lock out the bad guys?), and niche. In 2008, however, the CTO of a powerful agency within the U.S. Department of Defense boldly declares open source's superiority as a development model:

Open source brings to us the ability to have collaborative and agile development environments....Additionally, open source benefits the Department of Defense through...simplified licensing...and security....Security through obscurity just doesn't work.

And while Microsoft has paid for research that counterbalances the apparent rise of open source in U.S. defense agencies, it's hard to argue with the facts. The Pentagon is preparing guidelines to shepherd more open source into U.S. defense. Various U.S. defense agencies have gone on the record in support of open source . The U.S. Department of Defense has even sponsored an open source conference .

It's happening. Mihelcic's comments referenced above are just one more indication that the world's most demanding, mission-critical defense systems will increasingly run open source. For you Americans, if your country trusts your physical security to open source, isn't it time to trust your business' security to open source?

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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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