Friday, April 04, 2008

It's not whether the source is open or closed. Get the development strategy right instead!

I see David Cameron has been talking about Open Source again as too has Tom Watson. Shame really that "Open Source" is seen as some sort of panacea solution for Government IT. It isn't. The key is actually the development methods and strategies that are used.

It doesn't matter if the software being produced is bespoke, or if it is closed, or if it starting from a GPL based and worked upon. Although I would say that it would be rather silly for Government to use the GPL for it's more important projects. Why would you want to develop a system where you then have to tell the whole world the way it works. Kind of silly from a security point of view isn't releasing the source of your systems?

What needs to happen in Government is the embracing of Agile methodologies as opposed to the current old-fashioned waterfall methods which spend time ind esign then implementation and don't deliver tangible things on the way. Whether the code you develop is open or closed matters not a jot.


Anonymous said...

Security through obscurity is rather discredited, if your system relies upon people not seeing the source for it's security you've got bigger problems to worry about. Also the GPL only requires you to release the code if you distribute the program, so if the government develop something based on GPL and only use it in house then they've no obligation to let anyone see the code anyway.

Just to pick a few nits.

dizzy said...

Errr I wasn;t suggesting security through obscurity. I was simply making that point that if you're going to embrace open source completely then you're adding more risk to your security model. I think on the GPL point it might depends on the license type.

Anonymous said...

Worked in a large government department on a small scale IT project a couple of years ago... The outsourced IT partner decided to trial Agile methodologies on our piece of work. I was impressed by the methodology and the way the developers used it, but less so by the fact that it immediately got bogged down by the other parts of our partner's organisation. Their bureaucracy just couldn't cope with the regular releases and testing that it required. Moral of the story, as always, if you're going to try something new, think it through properly, don't just leap in!

Mostly Ordinary said...

They talk about it so much because they think open source = free

Andy said...

I think Martin Fowler would have to start bunging the government as much money as EDS if you want to see some Scrum meetings happening in Whitehall!