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The free software in the design organisation: advantages and risks
Arguments of opponents free software usually are illogical and decided. The spectrum of arguments is wide: beginning from ostensibly more quantities vulnerabilities and finishing more in possession cost in comparison with proprietary software. The purpose of given article – the description of the real risks connected with free software.           

The spectrum of software products with an open code for use in the design organisations (and not only) is rather wide. For example, from office programs is package OpenOffice which one of the first began to support open format OpenDocument (ISO/IEC 26301) which structure includes all means necessary for the user: a word-processor and visual editor HTML, the tabular processor, the program of preparation of presentations, the vector graphic editor, the editor of formulas, the connection mechanism to external DBMS and built in DBMS HSQLDB. OpenOffice it can freely be established and be used in the state both commercial organisations of Russia and the CIS according to general public licence GPL.

From free DBMS a wide circulation have received MySQL, FireBird, PostgreSQL. Free programs are and in sphere network software are post clients (Thunderbird, Mozilla, Sylpheed), Web-servers (Apache HTTP-server, lighttpd and nginx), control systems of sites (Joomla, PhpBB), browsers (Opera, Mozilla FireFox, Google Chrome) and others.

Free servers of appendices concern JBoss Application Server, GlassFish, Apache Geronimo. At last, there are appendices with an open code for construction of the integration corporate tyre (for example, OpenESB, JBoss SOA Platform), means for formation and generation of reports (OpenBI, JasperReports, Pentaho).

Advantage software with an open code is connected with absence of necessity constantly to watch correct licensing (whether the necessary quantity of licences for this or that product is got). With an open code for a state sector it is possible to carry a transparency of architecture of software products (possibility of audit of an initial code), an openness of standards To number of advantages of products and architecture (flexibility at adaptation to individual requirements), a freedom in choosing of other workings out at change of problems of the organisation, efficiency of elimination of errors, possibility independently to operate life cycle of the decision and to supervise working out process.

That fact concerns number of pluses that a total cost of possession of programs with an open code essentially below cost similar proprietary decisions (with the closed code) also. For example, for the organisation of a server of the appendix on the basis of a commercial four-processor server for hundred users it is necessary to buy licences for the sum some tens thousand dollars (taking into account cost of technical support within a year). The organisation of a similar server of the appendix on the basis of, for example, JBoss Application Server, will not demand payment of licences and will be connected only with expenses for technical support is will make less than ten thousand dollars. And in the latter case there will be no restrictions on quantity of users. As to programs with an open code it is possible and to do without at all services of external technical support – at presence at the organisation of own qualified experts. The unique point on which expenses are quite comparable, is an introduction as experts about one skill level here are necessary. But as a whole the real economy at a choice of products with an open code makes from 50% to 80% depending on a kind of the project and conditions in which it is realised.

While wide use free software is complicated by two fears – reliability of protection of the data and productivity of decisions. But there are technologies and tools which allow to eliminate these problems. For example, for protection against unapproved access various mechanisms authentication and authorisations, algorithms of enciphering and check of authenticity of the data are used. They represent certain standards, firmness and which level of protection are well-known.

In respect of productivity, thanks to an openness of initial codes, application of open standards and reports, the checked up and reliable decisions are created.

Let's consider risks.

First, it is known that there is a following legal problem: many licences under which extends free software (first of all – GPL), possibly, are incompatible with the Russian legislation on intellectual property. One lawyers recognise discrepancy, others vice versa. But the is the theory, judiciary practice yet was not.

The second problem is connected with certification. Really, there is no enterprise which, being financially interested, will enclose the fair sum of certification free software. As it is known, process of certification demands money, time, organizational efforts, and is frequent also an administrative resource. Corresponding state structures have no possibility to spend certification under own initiative and at own expense even if such idea will arise at their management. In other words, free software the one who maintains him is compelled to spend any certification.

The third risk concerns compatibility free software with some new models of the equipment. So has developed that manufacturers try to keep a secret reports and formats of an exchange with the equipment (anyway, do not hurry up them to publish). They write drivers first of all for most common operating systems, that is family Windows. For other systems the driver can appear with delay, and it will be easier, and even will not appear at all, and it is necessary to wait some months while enthusiasts will understand in proprietary the report or a format and will write the driver. Corporations – manufacturers proprietary programs (at all not too extended) agree with manufacturers of the equipment about timely creation of drivers. For free software in many cases it is not necessary to any corporation, to agree there is nobody. From here and less equipment complete support.

The fourth risk, more likely, a lack, consists that the overwhelming majority of free programs are written for free operating systems, and on platform Windows some are transferred only, and they work in a nonnative operating system not always well. Thus, transition on free software hardly can be stage-by-stage. It will be radical – with all accompanying complications for business.

As to shortage and dearness of experts for service free software statements such are not maintained by critics. For more rare programs and experts are more rare, irrespective of, free it is programs or commercial. We will notice that the rarity simultaneously means weak susceptibility to viruses and other harmful programs.


Sources:
1. Herzen S. Segment of free software//Director IS, #7, 2009 [http://www.osp.ru/cio/2009/07/9498572/]
2. Fedotov N. Specific risks connected with free software//Director IS, #7, 2009 [http://www.osp.ru/cio/2009/07/9498563/]

The author: Челябэнергопроект
Date: 07/29/2009

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