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The Whitehouse Goes Open Source Releasing Drupal Code

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The Internet development community has been at the forefront of the “open source” movement and this latest news might be the last fact to confirm that this is no short term fad.

For managers and executives that are not familiar with the terminology, “open source” commonly refers to software that is built by a community of users and developers where the program source code is “open” to the community.  Unlike traditional software product models where the code behind the program is carefully guarded by the “manufacturer”, the open source model encourages collaborative development for the greater good of the product user community.

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Microsoft and other software application providers face building competition from free open source options to products like Office. This now includes a large array of programming languages, databases and development tools challenging the traditional programming tools that were only available as a license purchase option.

One of the fastest growing software tools is Drupal, an open source CMS or content management system providing a framework or structure for rapid web development while making it much easier for the client owner to quickly and easily maintain and add content. Other popular examples are WordPress and Joomla with Drupal becoming famous as the engine behind Barrack Obama’s presidential campaign web site.

Highlights as reported in the recent Mashable article*;

  • WhiteHouse.gov announced they are making modules of Drupal code they have developed and customized open source, i.e. are giving them away free of charge.
  • Drupal powers a sizable chunk of the Internet, from Warner Records artists to World Bank’s data site.

The open source movement is also making “cloud” computing easier. This is commonly used to describe applications and software solutions that are hosted in the internet cloud as distinct to software applications hosted locally on the users machine or company server. Many cloud solutions are free like Google Docs while other are available via a low cost subscription model.

“It looks like The White House has copied a page from Google’s playbook and is now advocating that federal agencies move to the cloud…… In an effort to reduce government operational costs and move agencies to the cloud, the White House is launching Apps.gov.”

The implications for managers and business owners are pertinent to future spending on IT and traditional application infrastructure. Open source is becoming not just an option but an essential tool for maintaining a competitive direct and indirect cost base for the business.

*Source http://mashable.com/2010/04/22/white-house-open-source/ April 23, 2010