[Linux-aus] Finding open source software developers in Australia

Anthony Hornby anthony.w.hornby at gmail.com
Mon Feb 9 21:14:52 EST 2009

Hi Glen,

OK how about I rephrase my question to hope fully prompt responses that I
can use :-)

If you have a open source development effort, lets say an open source
library management system for example based on a range of open programming
languages, database technologies and standards (though it could be any other
open source project). You want to develop or extend some functionality, or
even just look for local interest in supporting the system (database level
fixes, custom reporting, data migrations etc). Where would you start looking
in Australia for competent and interested companies / freelancers?

I have down-graded "top" to "competent" to broaden my options ;-) Though we
have had to pay $AUD 340 per hour to Blackboard in the past to have system
work done for us (who can say vendor lock-in) - and I would think that is a
"good" rate even in top circles. We regularly pay $100 - $140 per hour for
experienced staff contracting on larger projects. I personally think this
should be able to attract "good" skills.

There is a real opportunity to push open solutions in many education
communities at the moment but if the issue of support and expertise is not
addressed this is seen as a "risk" and the conversations with management
cease at that point. There are dedicated support organisations outside
Australia offering this type of support right now but due to the exchange
rate nosedive these are less attractive to some right now. Not everyone can
support their tech from internal resources - so I am trying to give people
some other ideas of where they could start looking locally.

I for one would like Australian Universities to start thinking about the
community source model advocated by projects like SAKIA etc in the USA where
a few large lead institutions essentially agree to govern and guarantee a
level of resourcing to ensure that open source software (still released
under an OSI license) gets the appropriate "ticks" in the boxes regarding
risk management / project governance needed in bigger places. Not all
aspects of systems are "sexy" and likely to be driven by community directly,
often there are unloved areas that also need some pro/ direct funding
management  to ensure development happens and is rigorous etc. It seems a
natural fit for me that universities and large public organisations could
stop endlessly bleating about having unique requirements and dealing with
vendors that could care less and actually take charge of their own
destinies. The amount of money we throw at some tech is mind-boggling and
the return is sometimes debatable.

Note I am not advocating an open source or bust position, I just think there
are some opportunities here worth exploring further and I realise that much
of the above is an over-simplification that requires per-need and per-use
investigation in each case to determine expected benefits. I however do
think that where we have a known long history of vendor indifference (closed
market, little growth, few incentives for them to change) and a growing gap
between our needs to deliver results to our clients in the ways they now
expect that there are opportunities for the sector to address the problems

Collaborations of public groups on these sorts of projects using local
companies and staffing also goes towards addressing the huge ICT trade
deficit we have (yes I know this is mainly hardware and the hardware
imbalance won't change, however software is somewhere we can make a
difference). If, for example, the National Library to adopt an open source
library management system (and some promising preliminary work is happening
here www.oleproject.org) I would be willing to move to that system when
functionality was acceptable to meet a minimum standard (this minimum
standard for us is available in some projects right now) and enter a
partnership arrangement to fund development / support to an equivalent level
to my current commercial system where it is my heartfelt opinion we get very
little value for our significant initial investment in the system and our
ongoing maintenance fees above and beyond the open source equivalents. In
this new model I get to leverage the strong library / university community
(and good open source projects need strong communities) + i can directly
take the software where I need it to go to add the most value to my clients.
I think this is a win-win for the medium to larger places. Smaller places
get to use a better system for free and again leverage the community. I am
sure this model would deliver a better result all round plus reduce costs
(which in this current climate is a high priority), hopefully keep more of
our tech dollars here in Australia and give my sector back direct control of
how we deliver services to our clients.

Any tips / comments / suggestions you ahve are welcome - be as critical as
you like - I have a thick skin and robust debate is a great way for me to to
learn :-)

Thanks a lot.

Regards Anthony

Sent from my android powered G1 mobile phone

On Feb 9, 2009 7:05 PM, "Glen Turner" <gdt at gdt.id.au> wrote:

Anthony Hornby wrote: > > I am still working away at my presentation and I
thought I'd ask the > lis...
Your problem is "top", and that's not a problem unique to Linux.

Your other problem is "small business" since for large business
all of the usual suspects already support Linux.

 Glen Turner
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