Re: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in I CT

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  • Subject: Re: eForesee malta-ict: Scenarios for Malta in I CT
  • From: Dekkers Martijn at OPM
  • Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 15:23:51 +0200

Hi Jennifer, 

A scenario/theme for ICT in Malta:

* Malta as an Open Source Centre of Excellence:

-Introduction & Background

Open Source Software is a form of software development where
the developer(s) freely share the source code of their
software. This practice initially seems counterintuitive -
Giving away the source code of your software is like giving
away the secrets of how your product works - giving all your
competitors immediate access to your work.

However, closer examination of the community of Open Source
developers, the business models of organisations that develop
and support open source software as well as the significant
interest and commitment of major player in the global ICT
field (IBM invested to the tune of $1 billion in Open source
Software, Sun Microsystems made available the sourcecode to
StarOffice - at a cost of roughly $30 million, to name but a
few) reveals that Open Source software simply makes business
sense. Some well-known examples of software produced by the
Open Source community are the GNU/Linux operating system, the
OpenOffice.org office suite (full replacement of Microsoft
Office - free of charge), the Apache webserver (in use by
over 60% of the worlds' websites - even eforesee.info
runs on Linux and Apache) and many others.

The true revolution in terms of software development is the
shift of the software development paradigm from a
manufacturing-based industry to a services-based industry.
This is significant, since the software development process
is one where the base material for the manufacturing of
product are thoughts, ideas, concepts, and other
"intangibles". These base materials make an uncomfortable fit
at best with the traditional manufacturing paradigm.

However, these same base materials make a very good fit with
the services industry, as does indeed that whole concepts
behind the need and values underpinning the ICT field. So the
shift of software development from a manufacturing paradigm
to a services-based paradigm is not so much of a revolution
as it is a natural gravitiation to the place it belongs.

Our website offers more information on Open Source Software:

- Malta and Open Source Software

Malta, as well as other small nations, have a unique
opportunity with Open Source software, and the widening
acceptance of Open Source software and the Open source
Development model as a mainstream force in modern ICT.

Open Source software has an almost zero barrier to entry for
organisation, due to the following reasons:

* inherent accessibillity to the full creation process, the
direct contact with the individuals that wrote the
sourcecode, and the overall mentality of free sharing of

* The only tools required to participate in the community
are a healthy attitude, a PC (costly OS not required - one
can opt to use Linux - there are many user friendly
distributions available), and an Internet connection.

* Information about the many aspects of opensource software
and the community that supports it is readily available all
over the Internet - free of charge.

Any person or organisation with the predispostion and tools
can for part of this community, learn from it, and
subsequently assist organisations in the use and
implementation of Open Source software - low investment = low
barrier to entry. This in contrast to providing similar
services for "established" products.

An example case in point would be an organisation that wishes
to provide professional services, support, and advice on
Office Suites to organisations.

* An organisation that wishes to provide advise and support
services for Microsoft Office would require a hefty up-front
investment. Entry into Microsoft's partner programs is not
cheap. One requires a minimum of 3 staff members to be MCSE
certified - a proprietary training course that is costly, and
only teaches the participant to use Microsoft products, and
teaches little about the general design, operation and
maintenance of ICT tools in general. The only true net
beneficiary of the MCSE (and related schemes) is Microsoft.
Only then can an organisation gain access to the tools and
information required to deliver professional, high quality
support and advise on Office suite implementation. Moreover,
smaller business are actively discriminated against through
the partner level scheme - the requirements for entry listed
here are for a minimal level of access to tools and
resources. Larger organisations (with more MCSE's and higher
budgets) can buy their way into higher levels of
"partnership" with Microsoft, and thus gain access to better
tools and resources, allowing them to operate more
effectively and efficiently then the small market-entrant.

* On the other hand, one may opt to deliver the same
services for supporting OpenOffice.org - a fully featured,
OpenSource replacement for Microsoft Office that delivers
full file compatibillity with MS Office and works in a
similar way and offers similar features. An organisation
would not need enroll staff in an expensive course, would not
require special "partnering programs" and would not be
discriminated against in favour of larger organisations, and
would still have access to all the tools and information that
one would receive in a high-level partner program from a
closed-sourced operator. The benefits, however, extend beyond
what any closed-sourced operator can offer due to the
inherently restrictive nature of their business and
manufacturing model. Due to the availibillity of source code,
one can translate OpenOffice.org to sport a user interface in
the users native language - for example, work is currently
underway to provide a Maltese version of OpenOffice.org -
spellcheck, user interface and all. This matches nicely with
Linux - already the Linux user interface is available in
Maltese. Closed source businesses will never provide a user
interface - a market of 200.000 units is simply to small to
fit in their business models. Open Source has another
advantage here.

This is just a small example of how opensource and micro
economies work well together - there are many, many more.

-Malta as a centre of excellence for Open Source software

Due to the ready access to all levels of information
regarding the open source global body of code, information,
best practices coupled with the extremely low economic
barrier to entry into the particular market, Malta is in a
better position to become a centre of excellence for
providing services around Open Source software. The EU is
moving towards Open Source software, as are major commercial

These are just some very high-level conclusions that we are
drawing from ongoing research we have been performing for the
past 10 months on Open Source.

The Univeristy of Maastricht recently published the FLOSS
report that gives more background on various economic aspects
of Open Source Software.


I welcome the opportunity to discuss this subject further.

Kind regards,

Martijn Dekkers
Chief Enterprise Information Architect

ICT Governance Department,
Central Information Management Unit,
Office of the Prime Minister,
Gattard House
National Road
Blata l-Bajda HMR02

Tel : +356 25992369
Fax : +356 234707


The information in this e-mail and any attachment may be
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CIMU or the Government of Malta unless explicitly stated.

> Dear Colleagues, We would like to initiate an on-line
> discussion on alternative futures for Malta in ICT. We
> would like you to send us up to ten different scenario
> themes for Malta in ICT. These can be scenario themes
> focused on:
> * specific niche areas (e.g. Malta as an e-learning hub)
> * or ICT-enabled initiatives (e.g. on-line gambling)
> * or telecomms-related initiatives
> * or any other ideas in general !!
> Ideally, this exercise should not involve too much time -
> maximum 30 minutes - just jot down what comes immediately
> to mind. So send us your feedback if possible by Thursday
> 22 August. Looking forward to hearing from you, Jennifer
> ___________
> Dr. Jennifer Cassingena Harper
> Head, Policy Unit,
> Malta Council for Science and Technology
> Villa Bighi, Bighi, Kalkara CSP 11, Malta
> email: [email protected] http://www.mcst.org.mt
> direct dial-in: +356 23602125
> tel. +356 21 660340 (fax) +356 21 660341
> ___________

sender : Dekkers Martijn at OPM
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