Govt takes first open source step

Paul Vecchiatto
By Paul Vecchiatto, ITWeb Cape Town correspondent
Cape Town, 25 Oct 2007

Government has initiated a first step to encourage its departments to use the OpenDocument format (ODF). However, there is some concern that it has yet to begin to prepare for migration to the new Internet address standard.

The latest Minimum Information Interoperability Standards (MIOS) document (also known as MIOS v4.1) officially endorses the ODF standard. This could see an open source product, such as, adopted as government`s de facto word processing package.

The MIOS document is issued by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), and outlines government`s IT thinking and policy.

MIOS is produced by the Standing Committee on Architecture of the Government Information Technology Officer`s Council, which falls under the DPSA.

Alan Levine, a member of independent IT consultancy Radian, says the move is encouraging. He notes that it paves the way for full implementation of Cabinet`s decision in February to adopt open source throughout government departments, but not entirely shutting out proprietary systems.

"This part of the document is encouraging, but the document still has no migration strategy for the implementation of IPv6, which is about to become critical," he says.

Nhlanhla Mabaso, Open Source Centre manager at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, says the adoption of the ODF standard means government departments have a wider choice in what software they can use.

"It is not only OpenOffice software, but they can also start using Firefox as their browser."

Mabaso says the lack of a true migration policy to IPv6, from the current IPv4, is of concern. He adds that an update to the MIOS v4.1 document should be out in the first half of next year to deal with the issue.

Levine says time is running out for the change to IPv6. "The time to start that change is now."

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