Feds can no longer ignore Linux

Given government's focus on total cost of ownership and its insatiable desire to find deals that offer the best value, it should come as no surprise that Linux has reared its head on the operating system scene.

For years, government information technology managers have not considered the fledgling operating system a serious option, claiming it could not scale to meet their needs and that it was full of security holes. Others complained that few applications were available for the system.

However, all of that is changing, and Linux continues to acquire footholds in various corners of the government market.

Now, almost every major manufacturer of desktops, servers and notebooks serving

the federal market is shipping Linux pre-loaded on their systems. Name a company and chances are it is manufacturing a system or porting an application to Linux.

In addition, just about all of the World Wide Web, application and database server packages that support Linux are available on the market today. It would be difficult, if not negligent, for the government not to consider seriously the benefits of using Linux. After all, it wouldn't be a bad place to start a Web-enabled government.

But even more important are the improvements made to Linux during the last few years and the unique advantages the system can offer.

For example, there may come a day when government IT managers realize the cost savings of not having to pay for an OS license for every desktop and server. Furthermore, what better way to reduce costs and enhance security than by back control of your own operating system code.

Linux is open-source code, allowing its users to access the code, enhance it and distribute the enhancements to the community at large. And many respected operating system experts will be glad to describe just how much more stable Linux is than some other systems.

If federal IT buyers are serious about reducing total cost of ownership and choosing systems based on best value, they should begin to consider Linux as part of the equation. Having such alternatives can only help to create competition that pushes IT costs lower and in turn improves operating systems - something federal procurement reformers have hoped would happen.

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