Encouraging FOSS Adoption

How does one best nudge one’s organization toward open source solutions?

This article recently renewed my interest in this subject. From the article:

The Department of the Navy has adopted a new policy which requires that open source software must be considered in every software acquisition the Navy makes.

From Navy CIO Robert Carey:

The Department of Navy CIO recognizes the importance of OSS to the war fighter and need to leverage its benefits. The misconception that OSS is neither a commercial off-the-shelf nor government off-the-shelf solution has hindered the Department of Navy’s ability to leverage the benefits of OSS methodology. Because of this misconception, OSS has not received equal consideration during the software acquisition process.

DOD has also made open source a top priority (warning: PDFs - here and here) through similar methods.

Does this type of top-down approach make the most sense? Would a bottom-up, small projects/successes approach work better? A combination of both?

It’s an interesting problem. Though I think there are huge advantages to FOSS over proprietary solutions if all other factors remain equal, I don’t think FOSS should be granted favoritism simple for being FOSS. On the other hand, without forcing FOSS to be considered in every acquisition, will it ever get equal billing in an organization used to proprietary solutions?

I’d be interested to hear what you think. IT at my organization is drafting an Enterprise Architecture, and it would be a good place to push FOSS if pushing it doesn’t create an uneven playing field.

For the time being, I’ll continue to encourage people in my organization to use FOSS through my normal method of pestering, cajoling, and generally annoying. It may not be the most effective method, but it’s awfully fun.