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The Way Business Is Moving

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Issue Date: February 2008

OSS market builds on FOSS policy

1 February 2008

While the South African open source software market is still in its development stage, the recent decision by the South African Government to adopt a Free and Open Source Software policy is a significant boost for the industry.
New analysis from growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan (http://www.ITservices.frost.com) entitled 'South African Open Source Software Market' finds that both the public and private sectors will benefit from the expansion of open source software (OSS), as the cost reductions realised will not only encourage the start up of new businesses, but will also allow the government to channel resources to much needed areas such as healthcare and education.
"OSS provides South Africa with an alternative to the costly applications of proprietary software vendors," notes Frost & Sullivan industry analyst, Lindsey McDonald. "The government's adoption of the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) policy is a major driver for this market, as OSS will be used at all levels of the government where it is comparable to or more suitable than proprietary software."
Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Lindsey McDonald
Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Lindsey McDonald
Furthermore, OSS allows users to enhance and customise applications according to their use. There is a high level of collaboration among OSS developers and the government policy should serve to further increase collaboration in this market. This in turn will result in the development of applications uniquely suited to the South African environment.
However, a general lack of awareness is threatening the extensive use of OSS.
"Many potential users are not aware of the benefits or capabilities of OSS," says McDonald. "These include the potential to customise it for any purpose and the availability of the source code to all users. Additionally, there is a perceived lack of support for OSS software."
While this is true in some cases, a growing number of companies are also offering OSS support and customisation services.
Overall, market participants need to challenge the view that OSS is simply for technology enthusiasts. The practical benefits of OSS should receive more attention. Focusing on the strengths of OSS rather than the alleged weaknesses of proprietary software would be a positive manner in which to promote the use of OSS.
Contact Patrick Cairns at patrick.cairns@frost.com if you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end users and other industry participants with an overview of the latest analysis of the South African open source software market.


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