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Open Source: The Engine Behind Integrating Emerging Technologies

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Emerging Technology of 2019: Meet Your New Digital Coworkers.” Download the full guide here.

Innovation is often symbolized by a lightbulb – a spark of individual inspiration that propels unforeseen progress. But those in IT know that technological breakthroughs take much more than a moment of novel brilliance.

Rather, innovation builds off of prior knowledge and requires collaboration among those with diverse skill sets and specialties. Furthermore, it takes time. For that reason, open source technology has traditionally opened the door to cohesive innovation and integration.

Speaking recently with GovLoop, Dave Cohn, Cloud Native Subject Matter Expert for North American Public Sector at Red Hat, explained why open source is the bedrock for integrating emerging technologies in government.

“The best ideas bubble up through the actual open source project itself,” Cohn said. “That’s how you really drive innovation in cloud and e-technologies and create these new emerging technologies.”

Open source allows government to “crowdsource” its projects and leverage other technologies, Cohn said. In government, where limited funds often stall out IT modernization projects, resourcefulness is required to get emerging technologies off the ground. The community of open source projects is an invaluable resource.

Red Hat’s open source technology is non-proprietary and spans from Linux to Kubernetes to its newest cloud-based Istio technology, tailored to cloud-native projects and microservices.

Successful open source projects are accompanied by Agile development practices and “fail fast” approaches. Agencies have to adopt iterative practices in order to maximize the value of emerging technologies.

“Our government needs to innovate just as fast as any major enterprise out there, sometimes even faster,” Cohn said. “When you look at the Defense Department and our military, you can’t do things the old way. You can’t start building things, and then go back to the drawing board a year later and make changes. You have to make an iterative process as you go.”

Red Hat works through the integration processes with agencies to prepare

them for new technologies, ensuring that they’re integrating systems and achieving their desired outcome. Moreover, Red Hat can help agencies tie their projects and technologies together securely, using hardened open source to merge projects through Agile and iterative processes.

Unlike an application or service, open source is much more than a feature for agencies to implement. Instead, open source represents a mindset and ideology that has to match internal methods and practices.

By recognizing the value of open source, agencies can dictate a future in which the public sector is on the cutting edge, not lagging behind.

“The technology’s only half the battle. It’s really how do you change the culture, how do you build an Agile and DevOps approach, and how do you really go forward and be successful,” Cohn said.


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