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SITA moves strongly toward OSS

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Following the emphasis placed on open standards and open source software in the keynote by Minister of Public Services & Administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moloketi at GovTech, comes the news that SITA has awarded Business Connexion’s Open Source Competency the contract for developing and implementing a change management methodology for migrating 3 500 SITA users to the Ubuntu suite of open source software solutions.

"The human aspect of change is often overlooked in IT migration projects and so the *People GoLive!* approach we have eveloped does make sense in a world which aspires to be increasingly democratic," says Gary Fortuin, senior manager, Linux and OSS at BCX.  “Users are increasingly coming to expect freedom of choice and FOSS represents the greatest level of freedom and flexibility.
“People all over the world are increasingly seeing freedom of choice and a democratic approach as two of their absolute rights,” says Fortuin. “Open source technologies deliver those rights superbly, in terms of making it easy for people to participate in modern economies. Our approach to training therefore encourages users to take ownership of their systems.
“We will also focus on the technological implementation of the project, on making the most of the remarkable capacity of both Linux and Ubuntu to lower the total cost of ownership of technology and, in the process, assure government of a rapid return on investment,” Fortuin says.
Makhosi Tisani, GM, organisational development at SITA, says that government has chosen Ubuntu software – based on Linux and developed by local entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth – because it offers an easier, more affordable way for emerging economies to become computer literate.
“We looked at a number of change management methodologies and chose the *People GoLive!* methodology as it takes into account the fact that people accustom themselves to change in different ways," says Tisani. "As with any transition, you get your early adopters and your resisters. Business Connexion’s approach takes cognisance of this fact and offers people a variety of routes to adapt to new circumstances. Another significant deciding factor was Business Connexion’s approach to skills transfer and its commitment to finding ways to reduce the skills shortage.”
SITA is focused on standardising government departments on Ubuntu to enable integration and interoperation of systems, enhance functionality across the board, and facilitate rapid upgrades and the addition of new services.
Governments in Brazil, China, Spain, India and Malaysia are already using Linux-based systems.
“In fact, we see the whole project as vital to the transformation of the country – through the astute application at government level of appropriate technologies and then developing the skills to exploit them effectively," says Tisani. “We will therefore pay particular attention to user training not only in terms of teaching them to use Ubuntu, but also as a means of addressing the overall IT skills shortage in South Africa.”