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30 September 2014

Open Source software – Competitiveness through collaboration

 - Thursday, 08 September 2011, 00:00

by Michel Bugeja

On the 5th of September 2011, the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) hosted the third Government of Malta Open Source End User Group (MOSEUG) meeting. The theme, was ‘OSS – Competitiveness through Collaboration’ and the meeting focused on:

• open source business models – in particular getting a common understanding of the concepts behind the model, and

• open source communities and collaboration – discussing ways of further exploiting community collaboration

Attending the meeting there were representatives from Ministries and participants from the Public Administration, service providers, members from other communities as well as individuals. The user group was chaired by MITA.

During the meeting, MITA provided an overview of a number of ongoing Open Source Software (OSS) initiatives and a draft copy of the OSS procurement guidelines.

The Ministry of Finance, Economy and Industry (MFEI) presented a number of success stories and discussed various ongoing OSS initiatives.

Speakers from the private sector who contribute regularly to open source projects gave two presentations during this edition of MOSUEG. The first presentation was delivered by MARSEC-XL and gave an overview of the open source MARSSA project. The second presentation delivered by Ricston highlighted open source from a service provider perspective. The speakers also shared their views and opinions, explaining that the setting up of a community and the adoption of an open source business model are pretty challenging tasks. It was however clear that the open source model is an interesting model to work with, both from a technical and business perspective. They mentioned that the strength of communities lies within the user base itself; communities provide a place where different users, with different skills and backgrounds, collaborate towards common goals and interests hence promoting innovation.

During the meeting it was highlighted that there are a number of risks when it comes to modifying and re-distributing open source software, depending on the licensing terms and conditions. As mitigation, enterprises are relying on insurance policies.

All participants and user group members attending the meeting acknowledged the benefits of the user group. There seemed to be a shared consensus that each user group member should further encourage other local contributors, service providers and representatives of the academia to participate.

The Government of Malta Open Source End User Group is open to everyone particularly individuals and/or entities who can contribute towards the proliferation of open source software at a national level.

Information about the open source initiatives is available on the MITA website at http://www.mita.gov.mt/oss.  Presentations of previous meetings are also available for download.

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