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Open Source 'Wasn't Available' Two Years Ago, Says UK Gov't IT Project Chief

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the i-blame-time-travel dept.

Open Source 113

An anonymous reader writes "The head of delivery for the UK's Department for Work and Pensions' flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, has said that the department didn't adopt open source and web-based technologies at the beginning of the project because 'such things weren't available' two and a half years ago. Howard Shiplee told the Work and Pensions Committee this week that the department is now using open source technologies in its enhanced version of Universal Credit, which was initially developed by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and will be rolled out nationally by 2017 for most claimants. The existing system being used in pathfinder pilots and developed by the likes of IBM, HP and Accenture will be largely be replaced by the digital version."

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WTF? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#45654439)

The head of delivery for the UK's Department for Work and Pensions' flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, has said that the department didn't adopt open source and web-based technologies at the beginning of the project because 'such things weren't available' two and a half years ago.

Then either they needed something highly specific, or this guy isn't qualified to evaluate technology.

Re:WTF? (4, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 10 months ago | (#45654479)

I was wondering myself, incompetent or corrupt? I do see IBM involved, so it could be both.

Before you feed the article troll (5, Interesting)

Cryacin (657549) | about 10 months ago | (#45654591)

Shiplee said: “Technology is moving very rapidly, such things weren’t available as they are today.”

If you actually read the contents of the article, it seems that Howard Shiplee was taken out of context. (Say it aint so)

It seems to me that lots and lots of small components were available for the final software product, but due to the complexities of navigating a large bureaucracy, larger systems that closely fit the requirements were needed. At the end of the day, it's just boxes on a piece of paper to an architectural "expert" somewhere. At the end of the day, it's all about risk, and how that risk is managed. The usual trick for middle management to keep their jobs, is to get the risk exported.

“You would find it very hard to find vendors in the market place to do this work at full risk. So the department took up the risk.”

Anyone who understands the concept that an entity, both corporate or government can't export risk is deserving of respect. Sure, you can have contracts with vendors that give guaranteed SLA's, but at the end of the day, if a government service goes down, and there's a 100% risk export, for sure when the media gets to it, "IBM messed up, it's not our fault!" simply doesn't cut it. A ton of mud will still stick to those who are beholden to the responsibility of a service that they provide.

Even financially, the risk that is exported is only ever as good as the other companies working capital and professional indemnity insurance.

Re:Before you feed the article troll (5, Informative)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 10 months ago | (#45654643)

Yep, I admit when I read the summary headline I about ROFL'd and had to check my calendar to make sure I didn't hibernate and wake up on 1 April.

FTFA it appears to be a specific mechanism for pooling their data, not OpenSource itself just there was no opensource solution at the time.

Re:Before you feed the article troll (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about 10 months ago | (#45655393)

At the end of the day, it's all about risk, and how that risk is managed. The usual trick for middle management to keep their jobs, is to get the risk exported.

We are talking about British civil servants here. The risk that they would lose their jobs over a screwup can be approximated to zero.

Re:Before you feed the article troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45656803)

Sir Humphrey would be proud!

Re:Before you feed the article troll (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 10 months ago | (#45658073)

Sir Humphrey would be proud!

Introducing job security based on merit whold have set a dangerous precedent. Why else would one keep ministers around? We are happy, they are happy and as long as we waste money efficiently no dangerous answers would be required. And as long as there is the odd man overboard required we still have got a lot of politicians to spare and in steady supply.

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#45655487)

I was wondering myself, incompetent or corrupt?

You mean the author of the article right?

Re:Soulskill (0)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 10 months ago | (#45657749)

Soulskill.

"Such things" refers to "open source and mechanisms on the web to store and access data", which, unless I'm shit-eatingly retarded, means the specific things they needed to implement this.

The initial release of Azure was 3 years ago, and AWS was a novelty until just a bit before then. Neither one would have been even considered as a web storage solution two and a half years ago. And "open source" very specifically means things that would take certain inputs and give certain outputs, which if I were to guess still do not exist in the form that is required.

I'm not disagreeing - I'm expounding to explain why I read with NoScript, RequestPolicy, and others enabled so I can't see ads. I close my browser, deleting cookies (yes even super cookies) between posts. I have an ISP with IP pooling so I can't be easily tracked for more than an hour or so. I do this because fuck you, Dice.

I choose not to read ComputerWorld. But when a news aggregator decides I should be informed, the message better be crystal fucking clear. The author might be a blithering, window licking retard, but Soulskill decided to post it here.

I may start a blog about all the things I smeared fecal matter on, and whose fecal matter it was, and submit stories titled "things open source cannot stop" and "what's wrong with Ubuntu" and "as a proprietary coder I explain why everything I produce is shite". I would get front page stories without a blink.

Re:WTF? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45656261)

I was in a meeting recently where an IBM engineer assured us that we shouldn't use an open source solution because it would "lock us into one technology". Then in the very next sentence he described the IBM product that would do essentially the same thing as the open source software. Everyone in the room had that WTF? expression.

Re:WTF? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45656263)

The Minister in charge is a fuckwit, he was such a success as an army officer he was returned to unit. Failed leader of the conservative party.

The only interesting thing about him is what does he have on Cameron and Osborne etc that they dont dare sack him.

Re:WTF? (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 10 months ago | (#45657985)

Name one current UK Minister who isn't a fuckwit. They've turned the whole thing into amateur hour with badly thought-out campaigns and policies. While everybody else seems to be equally incompetent they do at least seem to be afflicted by something with the semblance of a concsience.

The current administration should spend less time worrying about brown people and Bulgarians(read: lose votes to UKIP) and do their fucking jobs. The latest embarrassment was David Cameron turning up at Nelson Mandela's funeral. While Mandela was one of the forgiving sort, Cameron was the one who visited SA to support them against those totally unjustified and unfair anti-Apartheit sanctions.

Could we please put the whole bally lot out to pasture and not worry about bedroom taxes anymore? The rest of Europe is currently wondering why we should actually put up with UK shenanigans anymore. They've become more trouble than the French.

Re:WTF? (1)

Goose In Orbit (199293) | about 10 months ago | (#45654481)

Given his title - the latter...,

Re:WTF? (1)

halltk1983 (855209) | about 10 months ago | (#45654487)

Agreed. I've been using linux since 1998, and I'm still a noob compared to many here.

Re:WTF? (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 10 months ago | (#45655249)

and you'll remain a n00b until you learn to look beyond the headline and (here, the summary) and read what was actually said and apply some critical thinking and comprehension to it.

FYI, he didn't say "there was no such thing as open source", he said "there was no open source component that did what we needed".

Re:WTF? (2)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 10 months ago | (#45655743)

The summary also completely fails to mention what the hell kind of software he was looking for.

Re:WTF? (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45656959)

From my experience, they needed middleware to sit between two propietary systems that are closed source, with cross licensing so that any open source solution would be illegal (or practically impossible). The "solution" would be replacing one (or both) of the systems being connected. Sounds like that was the solution in this case.

Re:WTF? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#45657227)

There's no good reason Free Software can't connect two proprietary systems. Chances are the two payware systems aren't terribly cooperative with to begin with.

Re:WTF? (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 10 months ago | (#45658035)

There's a little bit more to it. The business requirements for gov contracts tend to be massively convoluted and a moving target. Our beloved legislative doesn't care for consistency and each rule is nothing but a series of exceptions. So this introduces a whole lot of risk into projects like these. Just look at what happened to the website for the Affordable Care Act. Negotiations up to the very end. Gov customers are very much special needs customers and they know it.

So enter the marketdroids and sales critters. They promise they nearly have what is needed and there is very little customizing required. On paper this sounds like something that reduces risk when compared to a custom solution. But it rarely works that way. Deadlines for gov projects are a menace and resemble very much a gunshot. Do not enter that market without a humongous legal department staffed with a rabid pack of attack-lawyers who have been in the loop ever since you handed in your tender. And do not enter a contract like this carried on a wave of idealism. Because you will get burned. To a crisp.


There is no room for naivety in gov contracts.

Re:WTF? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45658575)

APIs have been patented before to prevent 3rd parties from interoperating. I've seen proprietary software that was made deliberately troublesome to push professional services income.

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654523)

> Then either they needed something highly specific.

My guess is: a non-functional, extremely expensive closed-source product offered by a good friend

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654565)

You gotta understand, to a lot of stuffed shirt types Microsoft *is* (or at least was) all of I.T. It's because there idiots listen to the loudest marketing department, and FOSS doesn't really have one by design.

Where I work we're dealing with same thing because of our MBA shit leadership. They firmly believe that the more money paid the better the software, meaning our "enterprise" labors under super-expensive and horrible software.

Re:WTF? (2)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 10 months ago | (#45655601)

If the company you work for uses technology and sales something more mundane then chances are they are going to buy commercial w/support contract before they move into developing a FOSS solution that can meet their needs {even if there is a solution that meets their needs they may overlook it if there is not a way to get a BIG support contract}. A technical company would be more likely to use FOSS and contribute back to FOSS.

Re:WTF? (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 10 months ago | (#45656831)

I had a manager who told me he wished Microsoft made all of the software we used. In his eyes the interoperability between excel, word, powerpoint outlook etc. made his life so much easier. He even wished our ERP software was MS made.

Some people just dont know any better and sadly, they get to make the decisions about where the money goes.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654577)

The former.

The sad truth is that open source projects often lag behind closed source projects when it comes to macro scaled projects. If Congress tried to question the White House as to why they didn't go for an open source solution for Obamacare, the White House would basically use the same exact quote.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654603)

Or by unavailable he meant either not an option because they were not allowed to choose OSS or did not like what was available (though I can't image it could be any worse than what IBM and HP offered).

Re:WTF? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 10 months ago | (#45654705)

Well I think it might be more based on the Web Technology available.
2 years ago, HTML 5 was quite new and the browser support was kinda spotty, so if you were to make rich web applications you needed stuff like Flash, to get the similar effect.

That said, there is still a boat load of Rich Web stuff you could have done with HTML 4 and CSS/Javascript. However you spent more time figuring out how to do a little trick then actually working on your app.

Re:WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654713)

Well, this article lacks details, but the real story is that they didn't trust open source software to fill the need.

It reminds me of what ESR said in his magnum opus, The Cathedral and the Bizarre: Linux is only free if your time has no value.

It's not so much a slight against open source, just a non-comforting reality. Open source is not free. This guy recognized that. Let's not make him out to be some kind of wingnut or criminal.

Re:WTF? (2, Informative)

Bengie (1121981) | about 10 months ago | (#45654823)

But nothing is truly free because of the requirement of "time". What does cost more money is legal issues that can easily arise from proprietary software. License management has its own cost.

Re:WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45655373)

And all those big suites of software install themselves and don't require a few hundred hours of highly paid consultants to integrate them at all ... ;-)

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654837)

Hate to pedantify, but

The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | about 10 months ago | (#45654941)

And closed source stuff only costs the price they quote if your time has no value.

Re:WTF? (3, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 10 months ago | (#45655693)

Not really. You're forgetting the additional support and customization costs which are not covered by the standard contract. And the yearly upgrade/renewal costs.

Re:WTF? (3, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 10 months ago | (#45654995)

Open source is free. Saying anything else is crazy fud talk. Opportunity costs apply to everything you do or use. Only a good faith examination of all technologies strengths and weaknesses will allow you to determine the right solution.

ESR was only looking at the negative side of LInux back in the day. How many people spent time learing linux only to have it lead to a promising career. Far from costing anything for these people, the time spent setting up Linux was money *earned*.

Re:WTF? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 10 months ago | (#45655751)

BAZAAR

Re:WTF? (4, Funny)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#45657241)

> It reminds me of what ESR said in his magnum opus, The Cathedral and the Bizarre: Linux is only free if your time has no value.

Clearly someone that's never used Oracle or SAP.

Re:WTF? (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 10 months ago | (#45654745)

I wonder if it might have been a corporate or governmental regulation. I know in some environments, if the OS doesn't have FIPS, Common Criteria, or other certifications, there will be Hell to pay come audit time.

Re:WTF? (5, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 10 months ago | (#45654939)

Or it was a terrible misquote of him in the slashdot summary.

His real quote was

“The current system for Universal Credit is a conventional system being developed on a waterfall approach. When you look at digital [the enhanced system], it’s very different – it relies not on large amounts of tin, black boxes, but uses open source and mechanisms on the web to store and access data,” Shiplee told MPs.

When asked why he didn’t adopt this approach two and a half years ago at the start of the project, Shiplee said: “Technology is moving very rapidly, such things weren’t available as they are today.”

So he might not have meant that opensource wasn't availible, but that the" mechanisims on the web to store and access data" weren't *as* available as they are today. Without knowing what technologies he's using, he could be right. They might not have existed, or have been as mature as they are now.

Re:WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45655139)

+1!

Re:WTF? (2)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#45655441)

Then either they needed something highly specific, or this guy isn't qualified to evaluate technology.

The third and most probable explanation is that the quote was taken out of context. Even without reading the article this sort of flamebait is common enough for that to be the default explanation: "oh look, government incompetence...they didn't even know about open source"

Re:WTF? (3, Informative)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#45655481)

And of course yes, upon reading the article that is exactly the case:

“The current system for Universal Credit is a conventional system being developed on a waterfall approach. When you look at digital [the enhanced system], it’s very different – it relies not on large amounts of tin, black boxes, but uses open source and mechanisms on the web to store and access data,” Shiplee told MPs.

When asked why he didn’t adopt this approach two and a half years ago at the start of the project, Shiplee said: “Technology is moving very rapidly, such things weren’t available as they are today.”

And the article and summary have misquoted and taken it out of context in order to make it seem as if he thought open source didn't exist 2 years ago. Chalk one up for incompetent flamebait journalism.

Re:WTF? (0)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 10 months ago | (#45655837)

He's a liar like anyone else who holds a position of reasonable power in the government.

Re:WTF? (1, Flamebait)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#45655887)

Have you ever met anyone in management (government or corporate) who was qualified to evaluate technology?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45656331)

Then either they needed something highly specific

Highly specific, and extremely complex.

He didn't say that there were no open source technologies, he said that there weren't any which fulfilled their needs at the time.

The department is run by the archetypal politician (1)

Epeeist (2682) | about 10 months ago | (#45658623)

The DWP is run by a politician, Ian Duncan Smith, to whom the aphorism "How can you tell a politician is lying? His mouth moves" applies in spades. He is also not very bright as well as being incompetent. The government of which he is a member is one of the most ideological we have had in decades and cares little about actual evidence for the policies.

Re:WTF? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45658833)

The head of delivery for the UK's Department for Work and Pensions' flagship welfare reform project

The guy works in the mailroom, what do you expect?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45659007)

The head of delivery for the UK's Department for Work and Pensions' flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, has said that the department didn't adopt open source and web-based technologies at the beginning of the project because 'such things weren't available' two and a half years ago.

Then either they needed something highly specific, or this guy isn't qualified to evaluate technology.

The guy's a fucking twat.

Quite So (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654471)

Quite so. What What?

Cheerio then.

Asleep at the switch (-1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | about 10 months ago | (#45654511)

I'd like to posit that Howard Shiplee's attention span has been well asleep up until 2 years ago. Holy flying fig, man, what have you been doing since 1985!?! Sleeping like Rip Van Winkle?

Re:Asleep at the switch (5, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 10 months ago | (#45654725)

Pretty funny coming from a guy who didn't bother reading the article.

Then what the hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654517)

...have I been doing for the past 10 years.

Re:Then what the hell... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 10 months ago | (#45654555)

Using Free Software? ;-)

Re:Then what the hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45656391)

Then what the hell... ...have I been doing for the past 10 years.

Not reading the article, obviously.

On inappropriate expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654541)

One pencil pusher was heard to say: "So, when do we get iPads to do our work?"

Re:On inappropriate expectations (4, Insightful)

sd4f (1891894) | about 10 months ago | (#45654611)

Probably not far off the mark. I'm noticing it in Australia, and not just in the public service, that hardware like tablets, don't appear to be solving anything or improving productivity, it mostly appears like as if they're shoehorning them in because people want them or they want to appear like they're keeping up with the times.

Re:On inappropriate expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654805)

Just add a Bluetooth keyboard and you have rebuilt the laptop. :P

Re:On inappropriate expectations (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#45654999)

Just add a Bluetooth keyboard [to an iPad] and you have rebuilt the laptop...

...badly.

Re:On inappropriate expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45656339)

Just add a Bluetooth keyboard [to an iPad] and you have rebuilt the laptop...

...badly.

...unless all you want out of your laptop is: A) Email. B) Listen to music/watch video. C) Facebook. D) Light Web Browsing. E) Light document creation. F) An array of light cute games ranging from Candy Crush to GTA III. In which case an iPad kicks the ass of any other product on the market.

I'm no Apple fanboi.... But the iPad handles the vast majority of the average home computer user's needs more effectively than any other device. Much easier than those of us who build custom Linux installs for our laptops... because... why, again? Other than "because it's there and we're IT supergeeks?"

Re:On inappropriate expectations (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45656583)

Indeed. For most end-users doing recreational stuff, the iPad fits the bill fine. Gave the SO one last year for xmas, it's nearly attached to her at the hip. But, when it comes to doing actual work, she still picks up the laptop. Me, I use a Linux laptop and virtually never touch the iPad. On the other hand, the TV functions as a rather large monitor...

Re:On inappropriate expectations (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 10 months ago | (#45654831)

"Keeping up with the times" is important, if you're - for example - administering a hospital, and physician satisfaction (an item that's almost entirely perception) is a major consideration for retaining high-quality staff.

I've worked in healthcare IT pretty much forever, and there's a lot more to appearances than meets the eye... ..or I suppose it's exactly what meets they eye :)

Re:On inappropriate expectations (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | about 10 months ago | (#45654977)

It's not just tablets, organisations everywhere have for years been deploying new technology that brings with it the promise of improved productivity. In reality it often does not... You take old hardware and old software that works just fine, and spend a fortune replacing it with new faster hardware running new slower software. The end result often isn't any faster, and users have to take time getting used to it while not using any of the new features. Often the new version is much worse than what it replaced, and instead of the software supporting the business, the business has to adapt to the way the software works.

Re:On inappropriate expectations (2)

BeerCat (685972) | about 10 months ago | (#45656167)

It's not just tablets, organisations everywhere have for years been deploying new technology that brings with it the promise of improved productivity. In reality it often does not... You take old hardware and old software that works just fine, and spend a fortune replacing it with new faster hardware running new slower software.

(should be +5 insightful right there)
There have been many companies *cough* Microsoft *cough* whose stock answer since the early 1990s has been "throw more hardware at the problem" (because of the implicit "our new software soaks up so much more system resources than the old stuff, that you'll need it").
It's only in the last few years that the hardware has overtaken the software so much that people forget how bad the "new stuff isn't any faster than the old stuff" had got.

instead of the software supporting the business, the business has to adapt to the way the software works.

A previous boss of mine (company director) stated "the needs of the business dictate the IT required. Not the other way round" Unfortunately, there are so many instances of the IT tail wagging the business dog that it really isn't funny any more (as if it ever was). Sharepoint, I'm looking at you, here (amongst many others on the wall of shame)

Re:On inappropriate expectations (1)

BeerCat (685972) | about 10 months ago | (#45656025)

I'm noticing, and not just in the public service, that hardware like tablets, don't appear to be solving anything or improving productivity, it mostly appears like as if they're shoehorning them in because people want them or they want to appear like they're keeping up with the times.

Reminds me of when PCs were first being introduced in Government offices back in the early 1990s.

Back then, they "didn't appear to be solving anything, or improving productivity" for many offices. For some, though, there was someone who either could see the potential, or could make something out of it all.

So, it was a long term goal that (ultimately) paid off

Re:On inappropriate expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45658893)

Well I've had the misfortune to have used both the early 90's system and the more recent system. From my point of view it was inferior

Summary trolling (5, Informative)

ugen (93902) | about 10 months ago | (#45654545)

Even though the article is also lean on the details, at least it provides the actual quote, which is:

"It relies not on large amounts of tin, black boxes, but uses open source and mechanisms on the web to store and access data,” Shiplee told MPs. When asked why he didn’t adopt this approach two and a half years ago at the start of the project, Shiplee said: “Technology is moving very rapidly, such things weren’t available as they are today.”

Ok, so "such things" - does not necessarily refer to "open source". It may (and probably does) refer to "mechanisms on the web to store and access data". Perhaps something "in the cloud", given that article does not provide sufficient detail - hard to say.

Re:Summary trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654763)

/. needs flamebait to encourage "debate" and outrage, resulting in more ad impressions.

Re:Summary trolling (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 10 months ago | (#45654937)

If you were a member instead of a troll, you'd notice that many of us never see ads.

Re:Summary trolling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45656621)

Personally, I'm eligible to turn ads off--but I leave them on and run various adblock-style extensions. Eat that, Dice. It's like wasting the time of telemarketers, except it's bandwidth in this case.

I'm not really sure if posting AC helps in this context...

And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654579)

This person probably has a literal interpretation of computer history and believes open-source is less than 2.5 years old even though the rest of us "non-believers" think the Apache web server, for example, has been around between 10 and 15 years according to our best estimates and theories.

These people also believe The Internet was CREATED around 1995 while the rest of us believe the Internet EVOLVED from spontaneously networked computers around 1968.

Re:And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 10 months ago | (#45654637)

Some of these people literally believe that the Internet is a corporate creation that was spearheaded by Bill Gates... so you can see how solidly they understand the history of networking.

Re:And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (4, Funny)

sribe (304414) | about 10 months ago | (#45654669)

Some of these people literally believe that the Internet is a corporate creation that was spearheaded by Bill Gates... so you can see how solidly they understand the history of networking.

A buddy of mine was once consulting for a firm whose new "CTO" argued with him, vehemently insisting that Bill Gates invented TCP/IP...

Re:And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#45654853)

A buddy of mine was once consulting for a firm whose new "CTO" argued with him, vehemently insisting that Bill Gates invented TCP/IP...

Wow, then as CTO, that's an epic fail. Time was you needed 3rd party software to use TCP/IP on Windows, and Microsoft was very late to the game in supporting it.

I'm sure that company has made some really awesome decisions with this clown at the helm. I'm betting small shop with limited technical breadth?

Re:And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (1)

sribe (304414) | about 10 months ago | (#45656569)

Wow, then as CTO, that's an epic fail. Time was you needed 3rd party software to use TCP/IP on Windows, and Microsoft was very late to the game in supporting it.

I know, I know. It was completely ridiculous.

I'm sure that company has made some really awesome decisions with this clown at the helm. I'm betting small shop with limited technical breadth?

You mean like: throw out the system developed in house on a somewhat obscure platform that worked perfectly and had low license costs, and spend years trying to replace it with something re-built in Oracle, just so he could have "managed migration of enterprise system to Oracle" on his resume? Yep...

Re:And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 10 months ago | (#45655119)

Bah! The Internet and the World were only created last Tuesday. Any history before that is just a test of true believers in Last Tuesday-ism I dare you to prove otherwise! Also, don't listen to those Last Wednesday heretics. They're just crazy.

Re:And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (2)

weilawei (897823) | about 10 months ago | (#45656645)

No, the World was created 1386723418 seconds ago, according to date +%s.

Re:And Earth is only about 8,000 years old? (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 months ago | (#45655657)

No. He was just mis-quoted to get people all pissed off and get some ad revenue.

"Not available" == not permitted at the time (5, Interesting)

g0tai (625459) | about 10 months ago | (#45654587)

Before people blow up :-) - This usually means that the department wasn't permitted to use 'un-vetted/approved/etc' software at that time (it may have been that they actually /wanted/ to use something open source 2 years ago, but various bits of bureaucracy didn't allow for it) This is government after all :-)

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654673)

Before people blow up :-)

You honestly think you can say something, literally anything at all in a Slashdot discussion before people blow up over something misquoted/misinterpreted in the summary. How amusingly charming of you!

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 10 months ago | (#45655291)

You honestly think you can say something, literally anything at all in a Slashdot discussion before people blow up over something misquoted/misinterpreted in the summary.

I would hope so, because otherwise I'd be charged with mass murder for my Slashdot postings, for causing lots of people to blow up. :-)

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45655383)

Before people blow up :-)

You honestly think you can say something, literally anything at all in a Slashdot discussion before people blow up over something misquoted/misinterpreted in the summary. How amusingly charming of you!

g0tai pleads for self-restraint amongst suicide bombers targeting the government.

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 10 months ago | (#45654711)

When the source is open it's easier to vett. It's hard for some people the grok that...

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45655411)

When the source is open it's easier to vett.

Both wrong and irrelevant. This isn't about going line-by-line in somebody else's code, this is about having a solid chain of support for when things go wrong. If an organization is willing to spend the time to have their own employees read over a batch of open source code, they would be better off by simply asking those employees to write the same thing themselves, and give them the open source code as an example of something that appears to work.
I've inherited code before, and honestly, line-by-line reading is worthless. It takes almost as long to understand what an existing piece of code does as it would to write the same thing starting with an empty text file. With proper documentation (hard to find in corporate code and nearly impossible in all but the biggest OSS), it might take half as long to understand pre-existing code as to rewrite it.

Now, assuming you actually read that and aren't just going to trollvote me because I dared type something ill of OSS as the solution to all the world's ills, I conclude with my premise. A responsible organization does not vet a piece of software, it vets the developers of a piece of software. The capabilities of the software desired will be examined as part of the greater goal of knowing that the providers of that software are competent.

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#45657275)

> Both wrong and irrelevant. This isn't about going line-by-line in somebody else's code, this is about having a solid chain of support for when things go wrong.

Which you can't really ever gaurantee over the long haul without source code.

This is by no means a new idea. A lot of older mission critical systems are built with this long term view in mind. Some proprietary systems even come with source so that the customer can ensure their own business continuity.

That's a very common idea in government procurement actually.

A lot of people are not impressed by the ability to blame someone else. That's all a "support contract" buys you a lot of the time.

Buying into the "support contract" mentality just means that you have to upset your apple cart because the company you bought it from decided to terminate support.

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45657531)

This isn't about going line-by-line in somebody else's code, this is about having a solid chain of support for when things go wrong. ... A responsible organization does not vet a piece of software, it vets the developers of a piece of software. The capabilities of the software desired will be examined as part of the greater goal of knowing that the providers of that software are competent.

This is 100% correct. Open source is seen as less desirable as the support chain needs to be created.
Unfortunately the effort for managing procurement and compliance for proprietary software is rarely included in the evaluation, which can lead to some less than desirable outcomes for the ops teams.

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (1)

randomhacks (3420197) | about 10 months ago | (#45654743)

I agree. It would seems very unlikely that he didn't know about open source software.

Re:"Not available" == not permitted at the time (1)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#45655463)

Well then, why not say "not permitted", "not approved" or whatever applies. Covering for bureaucratic incompetence should not be an option.

Place the blame where its due.

No just more lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45658913)

Well as this is the goverment we're talking about I certainly wont be letting them off the hook so easily. They are the ones responsible for vetting software and would have had enough time before the introduction of universal credit, after all the previous system was a serious failure, vetted or not:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23963867

NIH (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654597)

"We wanted software for free, and weren't interested in spending the money to have someone write and support the feature we needed. So instead we wasted millions of pounds and man-years of time on a commercial solution we elected to toss the second someone committed the feature to the codebase."

Rocking back and forth, muttering..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654777)

There's a qualifying statement. He has a qualifying statement to make....Please let there be a qualifying statement.

TFA - Computerworld (1)

dysmal (3361085) | about 10 months ago | (#45654799)

I won't waste my time clicking on anything from computerworld even if it's the UK affiliate. How about referencing decent journalism or even a 5th grade writing level?

In a way, perhaps true. (3, Informative)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 10 months ago | (#45654833)

I've been using the OpenOffice suite in one of its various previous or successor incarnations for nearly 15 years now, so yeah, its clearly not true that there were no usable Open Source alternatives 2 and a half years ago.

However, what has happened in the last two and a half years is that Google Docs acquired the capability to use old Microsoft formats (in April of 2010 to be precise) and work offline (September of 2011). If they are using Google Docs and consider all its cloud-based collaboration features along with Microsoft file support and/or offline capability essential features that make their new setup worthwhile, then its perfectly fair to point out that this alternative was not available two and a half years ago.

What?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45654879)

You mean IBM, HP and Accenture didn't recommend Open Source software ??? How is that possible ;-)

I think I saw that movie (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#45655595)

The guy must have just broke out of a block of ice and still thinks it's 1978. On the plus side, he missed Jersey Shore and the Kardashians.

It was as if... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 10 months ago | (#45655775)

millions of geeks all groaned in frustration and were suddenly silenced.

dafuq? (1)

ihtoit (3393327) | about 10 months ago | (#45656375)

GNU has been around since *1983*!
Linux was released in *1991*!

By 2010 the city of Munich public services had deployed SuSE Linux in 20% of its front end systems following prior announcement of the plan in 2003, with the stated intention to complete the transition to FOSS by 2015. citation [www.osor.eu]

Personally, I've been using Linux in various flavours and for various projects since 1996.

So clearly, the Head of Delivery is full of shit.

Note to the foreigners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45657105)

"Universal Credit" is a massive system of corporate welfare, whereby the state subsidises the wages of workers as long as they don't save money.

Libertarians and socialists alike should find this repulsive, and anyone who worked toward delivering it should be ashamed of themselves.

I can't take RMS seriously because his idea of "Free" involves allowing "Free" software to be used to create systems which promote everything but.

Yes it was (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 10 months ago | (#45657533)

Open Source took off with RMS in the 80's.

Surprised ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45658773)

UK govt is full of such misinformed twats. Look at the mess in NHS IT -

update on the UC system (1)

ihtoit (3393327) | about 10 months ago | (#45658903)

...breaking, it's fucking BROKEN already! IDS has ADMITTED in the Select Committee inquiry that the system IS NOT READY for rollout and that it is so full of flaws that the planned completion of rollout in 2017 WILL NOT HAPPEN.

Posted by Soulskill (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 10 months ago | (#45659049)

before giving the headline or summary any attention what so ever you need to take note of "Posted by Soulskill", that is all you needed to do to be certain that the summary bears no resemblance to the actual article and has been twisted to some sort of flamebait.
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