Author: Paul Johnson
It has been announced, across the pond, that IT analyst firm, Gartner Inc has now positioned Drupal Acquia in the Visionaries quadrant of both the 2011 Magic Quadrant for Externally Facing Social Software and the Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace, thereby raising Drupal’s visibility and promoting its accessibility amongst the top 10,000 global businesses.
The Magic Quadrants are graphical representations of the marketplace covering a specific period. They outline Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendors measure against set criteria for the marketplace. To achieve this badge of recognition and approval is most welcome news, representing a huge breakthrough thanks to the commercial front of Drupal, Acquia’s efforts in particular. As large corporations turn to firms like Gartner Inc for opinion and risk analysis when adopting platforms on large projects, it is, in fact, a tremendous achievement. As a result of educating the analysts on this proven technology, Gartner Inc will now validate Drupal when it receives enquiries. Meanwhile, in the UK…
In July, the public administration committee released a report stating that Government departments have been ripped off by a number of big IT firms to-date, sometimes paying as much as ten times the standard rate.
Although the report referred to rates of payment for equipment, it also stated that Whitehall’s overall record in developing and implementing new IT systems was particularly bad and went on to recommend that it uses more small and medium IT suppliers to increase competition and bring down prices, referring to ‘late, over-budget IT systems that are not fit for purpose’.
Shortly before this report was published, I sat on the panel for the Chartered Institute of IT’s discussion on Open Source Knowledge Gaps Across Government. I had entered the arena somewhat naively, enthusiastically thinking that the British Government was ready to take up the mantle and follow the lead set by America.
The American Government, under the leadership of Barack Obama, has embraced open source solutions and the White House now uses Drupal, the most powerful open source content management system. Now surely is the time for the UK to follow suit and collaborate between departments, sharing software and knowledge in the spirit of the open source community?
What I suppose I already suspected but hoped was not actually the case is, that as far as the open source community is concerned, government in the UK is a closed door.
Our government procurement process favours existing suppliers and large corporations and, of course, the open source community is neither.
It became abundantly clear throughout the course of the Chartered Institute of IT’s session that individual government departments want to own the software not share it – collaboration between departments to reduce duplication of effort is not to the fore.
Maybe it’s a matter of time and pushing against the door. In June, web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt unveiled data.gov.uk offering public sector data ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures for private and commercial use. This website has been specifically designed to mirror the Obama administration’s data.gov project and uses both Drupal and various semantic web technologies.
Fact is, for those used to working in the private sector, the public sector will always be a source of frustration: think red tape, the time it takes to get anything done and a general ability to swallow money without seemingly any understanding, or responsibility on an individual level, for the consequence.
As we are now threatened with a double dip recession, some months on from my experience on the panel, maybe change is getting closer. As Obama did for the US, we now need visionaries in our own government to break down the walls and it needs to happen sooner rather than later if they want to save some money. Meanwhile, we need to follow the example of Acquia and be encouraged by its recent result with Gartner Inc. It’s about talking and educating and, most of all, keeping on banging on those doors.
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Follow Paul on twitter @pdjohnson
About the Author
Head of Development, Paul has been at Livelink for almost seven years and currently manages a growing team of Drupal developers, themers and designers. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all areas of information technology including Drupal development, Drupal consulting, business strategy, application design, social media integration, digital marketing strategies, conversion optimisation, high availability sites, pitch writing and presentation.