Software… a new paradigm

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For some time now I have had this idea that the software industry, as it is today, will cease to exist. It may be 10 years or it may be 50 years, but I believe it is likely to happen. As more and more organizations collaborate on more of their common activities, so will they collaborate more on software and sharing and integrating solutions. In large part, this means building software solutions together (think free open source software / FOSS). In addition to increased collaboration, the global technology network will continue to become more “aware” and connected. I say global “technology network” because it will increasingly include more types of machines and their relevant information (read; phones, refrigerators, cars, etc) and the data they possess, not just our desktop/laptop computers.

Let’s get back to the paradigm shift for software. FOSS has gradually been gaining in market share in several environments. For some time Apache has had the majority market share in web servers, almost 50% more than that of Microsofts IIS. Today, Google’s Android OS is rapidly gaining in the smartphone market on iOS and BlackBerry and the Linux OS and OpenOffice are recognized as legitimate alternatives for desktops/laptops.

Now in addition to all of this, there is an fledgling movement and awareness for public organizations to collaborate and share and be more open. I am seeing this on several fronts and in places like, conferences like Gov 2.0 and many others. One such concrete example of this is the Kuali Foundation .

Kuali is a growing community of universities, colleges, businesses, and other organizations that have partnered to build and sustain open-source software for higher education, by higher education. Kuali software is designed to meet the needs of all sizes of institutions, from land-grant research universities to community colleges. The members of the Kuali Community share a common vision of open, modular, and distributed systems for their software requirements. Kuali software is released under the Educational Community License.

Some believe that the Kuali model would be appropriate for government as well. I tend to agree with this notion, that government departments and agencies have very similar needs for technology and software solutions and sharing best practices and software would be beneficial for all involved. Why wouldn’t government work together on common problems and challenges… after all, they are the experts.
Another sharing, clearinghouse type, initiative is the Civic Commons . The Civic Commons seeks to bring together software solutions to share among organizations.

About Civic Commons: For the most part, each city, county, state, agency and office builds or buys their technology solutions independently, creating huge redundancies in civic software and wasting millions of tax-payer dollars. They should be able to work together. An independent non-profit organization, Civic Commons will help these institutions share code and best practices, reform procurement practices, and learn to function not only as a provider of services but as a platform to which an ecosystem of industry can add value for government and its citizens.

More and more, we are seeing organizations emerge to make software open and available to whomever needs it. Some other similar initiatives include; Code for America, Open Plans and Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTA) in Washington DC.

While I will concede that there will always be niche markets for specialty software that will be proprietary, I believe we will see an increasing move to FOSS. The private sector will move toward a variety of support and value add services to organizations. The public sector has an opportunity to lead this shift and I believe it can.


Written by sjdixon

September 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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