EC to increase open source for software development

The European Commission aims to primarily use open source tools for developing software that is distributed publicly, shows an overview on open source adoption that was presented last week by the EC’s Directorate General of Informatics (DIGIT) at a conference in Tampere (Finland). Already much of the EC’s own software is developed using open source. However, over the next 3 years, DIGIT will push to make ‘open source first’ the target for all the new EC software development projects.

“We really want to contribute more to open source”, said Pierre Damas, head of sector at DIGIT, who presented the strategy at the Mindtrek OpenMind conference in Tampere. “This allows us to increase our adoption and participation level, and in this way drive change.”

DIGIT aims to use the next 3 years to transform the selection of tools used by the EC for online collaboration, including content management, forums and social networks. For example, the open source content management system Drupal is already planned to run all of the European Commissions websites.

Drupal will later be considered to become the EC’s internal content management solution.

Building blocks

In a third ICT area distinguished by DIGIT, concerning the making available of software solutions, the EC is already in line with the policy, by publishing the software using the European Union’s free software licence EUPL. Examples of such solutions are CEF eID, eSignature, and eDelivery.

Aligned with the policy is also the adoption of Linux-based solutions in the EC’s data centres. Here the strategy focusses on virtualisation using Linux.

Transform and diversify

The EC’s PC desktops are most behind target. Currently, the majority of desktop tools are proprietary, except for browsers and some other tools. The Directorate General aims to change this in the next 3 years, for instance by transforming and diversifying its office automation software. Additionally, EC units that are in charge of selecting products are free to define their own policy, depending on features, total cost of ownership and risks.

The EC’s Open Source Strategy was first announced in December. Last week, in Tampere, Damas said “the strategy makes clear that there is a level playing field for open source in procurement”.

“We want to ensure that open source software is considered and that there are no barriers to adoption in our procurements”, the DIGIT head of sector said.