Melaka state govt goes open source in a big way

  • Melaka State adopts Red Hat’s virtualization and Linux operating system; security, reliability and cost key factors in win
  • Opens Center of Excellence (CoE) in a bid to train more open source professionals, boosting skill sets for future

THE Melaka State Government and Red Hat Inc have entered into an alliance that will see the former deploy the open source vendor’s software offerings and use its training material at the Melaka Open Source Center of Excellence next year.
 
Melaka state govt goes open source in a big waySpeaking to the media at a signing ceremony on Sept 27, Dr Mohamed Sulaiman Sultan Suhaibuddeen, head of IT for the state government, said that Melaka has deployed Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and Red Hat Linux Enterprise operating system as the foundation for its planned cloud computing infrastructure.
 
According to Sulaiman, the state government embarked on a state-wide revamp of its IT infrastructure by consolidating and virtualizing its systems, with Red Hat as its main vendor leading the project.

Sulaiman, who has been with the Melaka state government for three years, said it chose Red Hat’s offering because it believes that the Rayleigh, North Carolina-based software player is able to provide a flexible, reliable and secure offering compared to the others it had evaluated.
 
“When we looked at what was available in the market, we chose a vendor who can give us some assurance that our systems can run in a secure manner, and that will give us some quality [and reliability] for the products we’ve purchased,” he said.
 
Asked to quantify what he meant by “quality and security,” Sulaiman said that as an entity in charge of the state government's IT infrastructure, its IT department needed to know exactly what’s running on its system. As such, going open source – with access to the software source codes – was the best way to have this transparency, he added.
 
“Systems running open source technology are much more reliable, flexible and secure,” he said. “We also feel that compared to other [software offerings] in the market, open source is less compromised (sic),” he said, adding that after evaluating other competing products, Red Hat was deemed to also give better run time performance.
 
Apart from this, Sulaiman revealed that going open source was also a cost-related criterion as the state government only spent 30% of what it would otherwise have spent if it had gone with another software vendor. He declined to name which other competing software vendors had been evaluated.
 
Noting however that a competing product, for instance, say Microsoft, would have given Hyper-V ( the engine of virtualization) for free, Sulaiman said, “It may be given free [by Microsoft] but it’ll require us to run it together with the Windows operating system, and this will cost us additional money,” he explained. “When we calculated the TCO (total cost of ownership), we found that it’s not suitable [for us].”
 
Situated about 150km south-east of the capital city Kuala Lumpur, the state of Melaka covers an area of 1,664 square km, and is dubbed the Historical State by locals.

The Melaka State Government comprises 43 departmental offices that govern four local authorities. Due to the growth and expansion of the state’s IT infrastructure, information and systems had become disparate and resided in silos, Red Hat claimed.
 
It added that the ICT division of the Melaka State Government, which handles most of the IT needs centrally, began looking for ways to control and consolidate its assets as far back as three years ago.
 
Sulaiman said that the state government plans to have all the common data and services consolidated to a centralized data center and fully cloud-enabled by 2015.
 
Asked if Melaka was the first state in the country that has such an open source-driven IT infrastructure, Damien Wong , general manager of Red Hat Asean, said that while other states in Malaysia may be using open source, the Melaka State Government is probably the first to formalize its efforts in such a systematic way.
 
OSS competency center formed
 
Besides the software deal, Sulaiman revealed that the state government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Red Hat and Abyres, one of Red Hat’s partners in Malaysia, to provide relevant training material under the Red Hat Academy curriculum to universities, polytechnics and community colleges in the state of Melaka.
 
Melaka state govt goes open source in a big wayCertification examinations will also be made available at a discounted fee for students, lecturers and instructors of the universities and polytechnics located in the state, Red Hat said.
 
In tandem with this, the state government has also set up an Open Source Center of Excellence aimed at providing the necessary facilities and resources for local students and lecturers to be trained in Linux, middleware and other open source technologies.
 
This Center is expected to see 250 trainees over the next year with the goal of a 100% increase year-on-year up to 2014.
 
“We expect to start taking in students from all over the country in January 2013 and we are operating on a not-for-profit model,” Sulaiman (pic, right) said. “Our aim is to promote the use of open source and equip students and professionals with the skills needed in this area because we feel there is a lack of skilled resources in this area.”
 
D.P. van Leeuwen (pic, left), vice president and general manager of Red Hat Asia Pacific, said: “Red Hat is very pleased to collaborate with the Melaka State Government in a bid to promote open source awareness in the state. We also hope that with the setting up of the Center, we will be able to provide expertise and resources to train current and future IT professionals.”

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