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Open Source holds immense significance for Digital India


 India is one of the biggest users and contributors to Open Source technology. It has evolved manifolds from being just a cost-efficient alternative technology of proprietary technology to an imperative technology in Government of India’s flagship programme- Digital India.


It is true that the revolution of digital transformation which has currently created ripples in the entire nation is one of the major  drivers to the growth of Open Source.  The Government of India has encouraged the adoption of this technology in the Digital India initiative and this has further encouraged the CIOs of enterprises and other government organizations to make a move towards this technology.  


“The rise of digital transformation in India has pushed the adoption of Open Source both by enterprises and government. As per industry reports, by 2020 70% of all newly deployed applications will run on an open source databases. The uptake of the adoption by companies of all sizes is a direct reflection of the maturity of the open source solutions. Infact, several institutes are opting to now including Open Source in their curriculum,” says Neeraj Bhatia, Director - Partner, Alliances & Commercial Sales, Red Hat India. 

 

Government & Open Source
Open Source technology has come across a long way in terms of maturity and flexibility. The Government is adopting this technology as it offers a scalable and robust platform which in turn provides the best possible outcome. Moreover, the most important reason behind its rapid adoption is freedom of choice. 


“Open source technology today is fairly mature and it is much more flexible. Considering the volume of data that the governments need to process, open source is the only scalable and robust platform which can ensure better outcome. Interoperability is another aspect which goes in favor of Open Source. Government’s infrastructure and systems need to support multiple systems, standards, applications and processes, which is possible only through the adoption of open technologies. Government, as customers, also appreciates freedom of choice the biggest advantage of open source. Open source can be run on mainframes or Desktops, without compromising on performance or quality,” views Rajarshi Bhattacharyya, Country Head - Suse. 

 


The biggest advantage of Open Source platform is that it drives innovation. It is a prime reason that many governments across the globe have policies that support this platform. Government of India has also developed BOSS based on Linux operating system. 


“The biggest benefit that Open source drives is innovation, it provides flexibility in terms of vendor lock-ins and feature customization. Another benefit is the faster time to market. More than 40 + governments globally have policies supporting this initiative. The Indian Government has even developed BOSS (Bharat Operating System Solutions), which is a Linux-based operating system. There are still more initiatives required on the applications and platforms front,” says Prashant Gupta, Head of Solutions, Verizon Enterprise Solutions South East Asia & India. 

 

As Open Source platform offers cost efficiency, scalability, innovation, rapid deployment, security and much more so it is the first choice for Government of India to leverage the digital transformation initiative which is presently going on in the country.


“Open Source is a prominent choice of Government to truly leverage the digital transformation initiatives. The Government requires scalable, innovative and high-quality eGov applications to be developed in a collaborative manner by encouraging synergy between departments and private organizations,” opines Dr. Devasia Kurian, CEO, *astTECS.


He further adds, “Apart from cost efficiency, Open Source solutions boast full range of features, capabilities and functionality to support a variety of needs. The key aspects are; agility, freedom to customize, rapid deployment, scalability, support and security.”

Importance of Open Source in Digital India
Digital India initiative is one of the most important project of Government of India which has encouraged the entire nation to go digital. To make it a success Open Source technology is very significant for it. Moreover, it is used in different government projects of Digital India and the policy announced in 2015 also encouraged its adoption.


“Opensource is an extremely important aspect of Digital India. It offers flexibility to enable, customize and explore newer technologies taking advantage of the global participation, unbound development, service automation which enables rapid development & deployment, bringing down the cost significantly. Open Source is now being used in various government projects under digital India program. The Indian Government also announced its Open source policy in 2015,”states Neeraj Bhatia.


When it comes to success of a new initiative, it depends on easy implementation and assembling of a platform which will encourage the growth of the business. Keeping this in mind, Mohiuddin Khan Inamdar, Senior Solutions Architect at Xavient Information Systems says, “Success of the Digital India initiative depends on how less it receives resistance from technology implementation and how fast a mature platform can be assembled to support innovation in business. Adopting and endorsing Open Source is a great decision to build such an ecosystem.”


Digital India initiative includes three objectives, to utilize digital infrastructure for citizens, governance & services on demand and to empower citizens digitally. For such initiative Government of India is adopting Open Source platform as a key which is helping open source vendors to flourish as CIOs of various organizations are welcoming the platform warm heartedly. 


“The Digital India initiative by the Government of India urges everyone to adopt open standards, promote open source, and open technologies. This was supported by Government of India policy on open source.  Open source policy align well with the Digital India Program, the program seeks to prepare India for a knowledge economy with three broad areas of focus: Digital Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen, Governance & Services on Demand and Digital Empowerment of Citizens,” explains Prashant Gupta. 


Further adding to it he says, “Governments using open source software, as a key component of 'digital agenda' initiatives that include open standards and open data policies, to enhance citizen engagement. The formal adoption and use of open source is the largest in the government organizations in the country. By leveraging the open source technology for effective governance, the Government of India is setting a successful example. As a result, CIOs are turning to open source to drive digital innovation to support various business processes with a new angle. Being a substitute for an expensive solution, open source is preferred by SMBs, which in turn, has appositive impact on their businesses. Hence, a mass adoption of the open source technology can impact the economy of a developing country such as India.”


Interoperability is the key to deliver services through various digital platforms and hence open source is the crucial technology for Digital India programme. Realizing the fact, Government of India has introduced policies and reforms to uphold the technology. It has become a preferable technology in all e-Governance systems. 


“Adoption of open source is critical for the success of Digital India programme, especially for our e-gov projects and electronic delivery of services to citizens. Interoperability is paramount to deliver citizen services through multiple channels like web and mobile. It’s evident that the Indian Government is aware of this and has introduced policies and reforms to promote the usage and development of open source technologies. Open Source Software is now the preference in all e-Governance systems implemented by various Government organizations, in comparison to Closed Source Software. We are sure that open source can help greatly in bridging the digital divide in the country,” states Rajarshi Bhattacharyya. 


Apart from interoperability, another inportant factor for the enablement of Government of India's digital vision is India Stack. It is a set of APIs that encourages developers to work with various organizations and government. 


“One of the key enablers to India’s digital vision is India Stack, a set of APIs that allow developers to work with government, businesses, and startups. Oracle Cloud platform has been validated to develop applications using India Stack services and is in line with Digital India initiative. With this, customers can create and test next generation cloud applications that invoke core India Stack APIs, including Aadhaar Authentication and eKYC, eSign and DigiLocker,” says Sunil Mehra, Vice President – Cloud Platform, Oracle India.

Opportunities in the market
Worldwide, many governments are getting associated with open source which is boosting innovation in the segment. The open source platform now does not only mean acquiring a product but also an investment in innovation. The introduction of policies for open source by Government of India has acted as a catalyst in the usage of the platform.


“Across the world many governments are increasing their engagement on open source. This is critical to powering a culture of innovation that is vital to serve the needs of a modern world.  The use of technology, including open source software, is moving out of the sphere of simply 'acquiring a product' to 'investing in innovation'. The Government of India’s move has triggered a surge in interest and usage for Open Source Software (OSS). Although it is difficult to put a number to it, this is an exciting opportunity for vendors of OSS and the community at large to ensure widespread adoption and a level playing field for all,”explains Kamal Brar, Vice President and General Manager of APAC, Hortonworks.


With a similar view Prashant Gupta of Verizon says that open source market has widened considerably with government adopting the platform. It has occupied a major place in various technologies like Cloud computing to software defined network, web and application server, Big Data etc. “The market for open source has expanded considerably after the government started utilizing and promoting the technology. Open Source was one of the top Enterprise IT Trends to watch in 2016. From Cloud computing to Software Defined Networks, Web and Application servers, Big Data, Analytics and Automation open source has made a significant place. Many studies clearly indicated that a vast majority of organizations have adopted open source in one way or another. We see even SMBs embracing open source technology and sectors such as banking, manufacturing, software development and business process have bet big on open source and successfully deployed solutions.”


The Government’s move of embracing open source software has been beneficial for the vendors. This has encouraged many other verticals apart from government like telecom, BFSI, manufacturing etc to accept this technology. 


“There has been a concerted effort from the government to promote the usage and development of open source technologies and it’s certainly paying off. As you rightly pointed out, government in itself is a huge market for open source, with initiatives such as Digital India, smart cities and various other e-gov projects moving to the next level. And projects like Digital India has an all-encompassing impact on the whole ecosystem. So government’s decision to promote open source has certainly resulted in more opportunities in other sectors. Other than the government, Open source today is widely accepted by verticals such as BFSI, Telcom, Manufacturing and Enterprise sector,” mentions Rajarshi Bhattacharyya. 

Adoption still lacking behind…
Though Open Source platform is gaining grounds presently but training and awareness for the technology is very much required to take its success to the next level. 


“There is a strong ecosystem in place and the adoption of Open Source is consistently increasing. Yes, more training and awareness is required for Open Source to spread and organizations are making an effort in this direction. With Open Source becoming prevalent, there is an increase in demand for skilled professionals. At *astTECS through *astTECS academy, we offer comprehensive training programme on Asterisk solution to Asterisk user, customers and organizations in India and many countries across the globe,” suggests Dr. Devasia Kurian. 


Kamal Brar of Hortonworks provides a similar view and adds that a proper platform is needed to train and prepare individual developers on evolving open source software.  “The key concern is training and availability of talent that will drive the next wave of adoption. Though, large systems integrators in India have committed re-skilling of majority of their workforce on next generation open source, Cloud and Big Data technologies, there is a need for a platform to train and prepare individual developers on emerging Open Source Software and their upgrades. At Hortonworks for example, we provide a set of easy to use Sandbox environments of fully loaded and tuned with tutorials. These are all available free to download from our website.”


Adoption of open source platform is not enough but empowerment of developers with an expertise to take advantage and contribution to the community are also an important for its success.  


“Open Source adoption is increasing in India with more government entities and organizations coming to the fore to take adoptive measures. However, a well-equipped talent pool and a proper training mechanism are needed to empower the developers with the expertise required to take advantage & contribute to the Open Source Software. Red Hat offers courses and certifications covering everything from systems administration to enterprise application development. Whether one is a Linux system administrator, or a cloud and virtualization developer or architect, Red Hat certifications not only helps developers advance their careers but also allows organizations and governments to hire the best talent,” Neeraj Bhatia. 


Apart from lack of skilled developers other challenges such as absence of vendor support, software quality and information security are also there. A strong policy framework can improve the situation.  


“The most important challenge that organizations face in the adoption of the open source technology is the lack of skill availability. Other challenges include lack of dedicated vendor support, software quality and information security. This can be addressed by laying down a robust policy framework to support adoption. Make in INDIA can also drive solutions developed on an open source platform. With the growth of open source in the Indian market, better training and more participation will result in setting a mark in the global open source market,” highlights Prashant Gupta.

To Conclude…
It is quite evident that with digitalization and different government initiatives open source adoption has been encouraged in the country. The policies of Government of India in this regard has further strengthened the position of the platform. All these factors have not only extended opportunities for the open source vendors in government segment but also in other business verticals who were skeptical in adopting the technology. But it is also to note that India lacks in terms of skilled talent in this technological field which is very critical for the growth and development of the technology. It is important to provide a proper platform of training for the developers to further contribute to the technology. Not only this challenges like vendor support, software quality and information security need to be addressed. 


Considering all the aspects we can conclude that open source software is making its way to success. 
Aparna Mullick
aparna@varindia.com
 

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