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Choosing Whether To Go Open Source Print E-mail
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Source: Forbes - Posted by Anthony Pell   
Latest News Open source has always been a favorite among scientists and universities where budgets are limited but where there is plenty of expertise around to fiddle with the code and customize it for a specific project or department. It never behaved like the costlier, commercially available products from big-name vendors, and it required lots of patience for dealing with quirks and knowledge of some arcane coding tricks. That explains why using open source for production in mission-critical environments, particularly where security is essential, has been relatively rare. But that's beginning to change. Since the Internet's widespread adoption, open source has become a global effort, and over the past several years that collaboration has yielded significant advancements. Applications are more readily available, security has been beefed up and the underlying Linux operating system has been worked on extensively.

But is it really ready for prime time in a place like the U.S. government? Forbes caught up with Michel Desbois, chief information officer of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to find out. NIFA is one of 19 agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and focuses on grants for research and education.

Forbes: What's the biggest issue for your agency?

Desbois: There's no question that security is top of our agenda. Our agency does not deal with classified information, so we're a little less sensitive than DOD [the U.S. Department of Defense]. But security is still a big concern in regards to infrastructure, because we are a federal agency and we're potentially a doorway into the federal government.

In the past open source was not considered as secure as commercially available software. Has that changed?

Yes. About 90% of our servers are running Linux. They're certainly as secure as the Windows world.

Read this full article at Forbes

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