Open Source Tech Is Driving Big Changes In Government

Joseph Marks and Mark Micheli | Nextgov | April 26, 2013

Open source technology is now visible everywhere in government from the basic operating systems that federal computers run on to the blogs, websites and social media tools they use to communicate with the public. Red Hat, which helps companies manage, maintain and secure open source tools, including the operating system Linux, has been at the forefront of much of this adoption.

Nextgov sat down with Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst recently to talk about how open source is changing government, where it’s had the greatest impact and where he sees it going in the future. (The interview has been edited for length and clarity).

Nextgov: Can you tell us a little about open source’s initial path into government?

Whitehurst: Enterprise open source is about 10 years old. When you think broadly about early adopters, it was two main sectors: financial services and the intelligence community. People think of open source now as low cost but the initial interest was because of high performance. The financial community used it because running Linux [the most common open source operating system] was faster for doing trading platforms. Then the major investment banks all moved over and that’s rippled through financial services.