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Digital Archiving Systems rolls out open source in Angola


Local Enterprise Content Management (ECM) firm Digital Archiving Solutions (DAS) has implemented Angola’s first ever roll-out of an open source ECM solution. 

DAS has provided at least 1 000 Open Source Software (OSS) client licenses to the office of the Angolan prime minister, the secretariat of ministries and to the Angolan government ministries of education, science & technology and external relations.
“ECM in general and OSS ECM in particular have never before been deployed within Angola’s administration. The improvements in productivity and staff morale are astounding as demoralised civil servants are transformed from paper-pushers into information age workers,” says Ronald Melmed, MD of DAS.
The ECM industry transforms paper documents into electronic data through the use of scanning and imaging technologies while Open Source Software (OSS) is defined as computer software with a source code available under license or via the public domain. Users are able to change the software and to redistribute it either improved or unimproved.
DAS currently runs a scanning and data-capture bureau hosting close to 8 tera-bytes of other companies’ data online in both proprietary and OSS technology. “We are looking at transforming our entire infrastructure to OSS. The OSS solution works especially well for the Angolan government because it installs in Portuguese and offers a much lower total cost of ownership than proprietary software,” says Melmed.
He added that DAS preferred to train Angolans rather than employ expatriates because the company understood the Angolan government’s emphasis on keeping skills and money in the country in order to encourage long term economic development.
The South African Cabinet earlier this year approved a policy and strategy to implement OSS in government. The government has also advocated the adoption of OSS by other Southern African Development Community (SADC) governments. All new software developed for or by the government is required to be based on open standards and government will itself migrate current software to OSS.
DAS is using best-of-breed OSS developed by the open source community and which supports the entire spectrum of ECM functions and activities, right from document management, collaboration, records management, knowledge management, Web content management and imaging.
OSS alternatives for ECM appeal to large organisations and governments which do not wish to purchase the expensive extra functionality offered by so-called advanced editions of proprietary ECM software as this limits their flexibility to change strategy in the future and switch to an unsupported OSS model.
“The heads of the various government ministries we dealt with were particularly supportive of our OSS ECM project as the National Commission for Information Technology (CNTI) in Angola has a plan to train local engineers in open source skills,” says Melmed.