Government may have expressed a policy decision to deploy open source software, but it is still not entrenched within national goverment departments.
According to research on the state of ICT in national government conducted by ForgeAhead, most departments have plans to experiment with open source projects – but most of the plans involve desktop systems and not the more relevant mission-critical server-based systems.
It's what Adrian Schofield, head of consulting at ForgeAhead describes as an "open source dilemma".
"We are seeing some plans for deploying open source software – but at the same time there is a suggestion they are investing in proprietary software. This suggests they are looking at open source because they have been told to do it."
Part of the dilemma, he adds, is a scarcity of the skills needed to deploy mission-critical open source projects. On the other hand, part of the reason government has made open source software a policy is to help develop intellectual capital in the country.
"Equally, a lot of the CIOs think that installing Linux as an operating system is going the open source route.
"This is obviously not the intent of the policy, though. The intent is to bring intellectual capacity back to South Africa."
An encouraging note is that fact that, while about 50% of departments are currently using some kind of open source software, this is set to rise to between 90% and 100% during this year.