Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Cloud Security, Government Cloud

Open Source Cloud: Article

How Does the DoD Fight Terrorism Despite Budget Cuts?

Open source technologies – a viable alternative to closed, proprietary software products

United States military contractors are under unprecedented pressure to find ways to cut costs for their federal government customers despite the interest in developing new technologies to fight the war on terrorism. Gone are the days when contracts would swell exponentially without any regard for initial quote figures or recourse from their customers. The federal deficit debt-reduction plan, which includes massive defense spending cuts, recently put the contracting community on notice that it has to change the way it does business, become more accountable for cost overruns and find ways to do more with less. Those who don't meet this mandate will find themselves on the outside looking in.

Getting the military contractor community to radically change the way it does business is akin to trying to turn around an oil tanker with an oar. It's a daunting challenge, but not an entirely impossible one. The answer may be easier to find than many would expect: open source technologies. By using open source software (OSS) and Government off-the-shelf (GOTS) technologies, contractors can offer quality products and services that are significantly more flexible and cost-effective than proprietary systems, and can be reused indefinitely and shared with other federal agencies without additional cost.

Open source technologies enable contractors to get unique emerging technologies and operational prototypes quickly into theater, using GOTS products that nearly all Department of Defense (DoD) IT personnel are familiar with and can easily manipulate and upgrade in the future. These systems are far easier to integrate into government IT frameworks and don't require massive annual license renewal costs since the federal government owns the software. Vendors that use OSS are leveraging open source libraries to provide functionality so that they can decrease the development timeline and costs for the government and allow it to essentially have unrestricted rights to use the software as it needs to.

The price tag and overall total cost of ownership for OSS is dramatically lower than commercial products. Proprietary software is traditionally far more costly up front, and requires annual maintenance fees for updates and revisions that can sometimes cost millions of dollars in large defense programs.

Proprietary software companies, perhaps to protect their market, will often argue that OSS is not secure. On the contrary, in many cases it is more secure than private commercial offerings. OSS is based on a mass community of developers who are constantly working to fix any vulnerabilities and bugs that may arise, providing a far larger and more aggressive effort to ensure a secure software product. Earlier this year, the DoD published a 68-page manual, entitled "Open Technology Development: Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Military Software," to offer development and security guidance for military agencies considering the use of OSS. Any concerns about the security of OSS today are really unfounded.

The federal government has clearly bought into this way of doing business. OSS systems are being used by U.S. military branches all around the world. Virtually all branches of the U.S. military rely on OSS for critical information networks. Intelligent Software Solutions, a small contractor based in Colorado Springs, developed an open source software development product that is used by more than 100 United States government organizations for everything from command and control systems for the Air Force to analysis of all the vessels coming into the United States on either coast for the Coast Guard. This is but one of a handful of companies offering OSS solutions to the federal government. Imagine if more, larger contractors adopted this business model?

As a result of the improvements in and the popularity of open source technologies, the U.S. government now has a viable alternative to closed, proprietary software products. Imagine entrusting a critical, multi-billion dollar military computer network to one software vendor that restricts access to its code (and has to come in and make updates and fixes at additional costs every time), or using open source software that can be accessed by the government itself and distributed to other government users, without additional charges. Which do you think makes more sense?

More Stories By Carl Houghton

As vice president of strategic initiatives at Intelligent Software Solutions, Carl Houghton oversees the integration of technologies across business units in the company. He also leads the company's Advanced Technology Division, responsible for advanced research and development of cutting edge technologies. He has led many software teams designing and developing applications for government customers. His previous experience includes 15 years of active duty service in the United States Air Force flying in combat missions in various places around Europe and the Middle East. More information on Intelligent Software Solutions can be found at www.issinc.com.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...