Internaut: Open source for government IT?

Shawn P. McCarthy

Computer Associates International Inc. and IBM Corp. have given the open-software community a big boost by making their database code available.

The gifts could prove useful to agencies with slim budgets and the desire to build advanced sites and applications.

A bigger issue is whether such installations will have a long-term place in government IT as the federal enterprise architecture requirements tighten.

IBM presented the code for its Java-based Cloudscape relational database product to the Apache Software Foundation. The group has temporarily renamed the code Derby.

One issue government IT managers face with Linux and other open software is ensuring a so-called trusted lineage of the code. They also need legal indemnification to protect them, should code ownership issues arise.

Computer Associates released the code for its Ingres relational database under the CA Trusted Open Source License.

Cloudscape has no significant presence in government IT shops at this time. But as a Java program, it could attract federal programmers of Web sites and service-oriented architectures.

Many developers who would rather work with a full-blown server than a pure Java solution. Those who do might prefer other open-source databases such as MySQL, from dev.mysql.com, or PostgreSQL, from www.postgresql.org.

To draw the interest of developers who might eventually ramp up to enterprise-class systems, IBM has a clear upgrade path to its DB2 database product.

Ingres is a higher breed than Cloudscape. CA has called the Linux-based Ingres the first enterprise-class database to be released as open source. It supports scalable clusters and parallel query processing. That might make it viable for agencies struggling to comply with new mandates to plug into specific standards for enterprise databases and applications.

More information about Ingres appears at opensource.ca.com/projects/ingres.

Shawn P. McCarthy is senior analyst and program manager for government IT opportunities at IDC of Framingham, Mass. E-mail him at smccarthy@idc.com.

About the Author

Shawn McCarthy, a former writer for GCN, is senior analyst and program manager for government IT opportunities at IDC.

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