The uptake of open source software in the UK's public sector has been slow, even though the government claims that it is committed to using the technology.
There has also been little change in the amount of proprietary software used by public sector departments, mainly because the government's policy is to limit investment in new IT systems, according to Graeme Swan, an IT advisory partner at Ernst & Young. Swan meets around three chief information officers (CIOs) a week from government departments or financial services firms.
"I haven't noticed any pick-up in governments deploying open source software, even if it is cheap. [The government's view is that] if it costs anything, why bother?" said Swan.
In 2009, the Labour government published a policy document entitled Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use, which claimed that the public sector would use open source rather than proprietary alternatives if there was no significant cost difference.
In March this year the coalition government promised to further this strategy, and to procure open source solutions to cut public spending on government ICT where appropriate.
In an interview with V3, Swan that said this policy, and others, had seen no noticeable action in the past two years because of the government's over-riding commitment to slash public spending.
However, Swan maintained that philosophically the government does want to adopt open source software, and said he believes that the government will give open source players a fair chance to compete for a contract to run the new universal benefits system.
Swan explained that conversations with public and private sector CIOs revolve around how Ernst & Young could help them move to cloud architectures, but even this is being held back by cost reduction strategies.
Ironically the cloud model of computing and open source technology are both strategies that could deliver cost savings for IT departments.
"The cloud may save organisations costs, but that's something a multinational doesn't really want to hear if it's just spent 10 years investing in infrastructure and building a datacentre in India," Swan said.
"If someone says it can reduce up to 30 per cent of their IT spend, they have to weigh up whether it's worth considering when they have so many other things to do.
"The last two years, IT budgets have been down and there are no signs of it getting better. Business and government CIOs feel they have made enough IT investment already and I think they are right."
Swan added that, in his experience, multinationals tend to consider cloud computing only if they are launching a new product that needs new infrastructure. Smaller companies and startups run most of their systems in the cloud, meanwhile, because they have not had to rip and replace old architectures, and cloud computing is the cheapest way forward.
Also, what's a USB stick?
Gravitational waves become extremely weak by the time they reach the Earth and require highly sensitive equipment for detection
The reactor topped out at 100 million° C
Cosmic event will not cause any disruption on Earth, say scientists