Open Source Software at Shared Services Canada



To obtain feedback from Architecture Framework Advisory Committee (AFAC) members on:

  • Best practices in establishing open source software (OSS) governance
  • Strategies for OSS support services


  • Background and Definition
  • Strategic Considerations
  • Government Context
  • Draft* Position of Shared Services Canada (SSC)
  • Discussion Points

*To be further developed in light of feedback received from AFAC members

Background / State of Open Source Software

OSS is everywhere and present in most organizations!

red arrow pointing up

“As a result, by 2015, Gartner believes that at least 95% of all mainstream IT organizations will leverage some element of OSS – directly or indirectly – within their mission-critical IT solutions.”
Gartner Hype Cycle for Open Source Software, 2014

Android logo

1.4 billion active and 81% of worldwide 2014 phone shipments were Android
September 29, 2015 Google Nexus event and Strategy Analytics research

Linux logo

67.2% of Web servers and 97.6% of supercomputers run on Linux
W3Techs (October 2015) and TOP500 (June 2015)

Microsoft loves Linux

Microsoft uses Linux in Azure cloud to deliver core services
(Azure Cloud Switch and Hadoop Software as a Service)

OpenStack logo

More than 500 companies joined the OpenStack project
(AT&T, Cisco, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Juniper, Red Hat, Symantec, etc.)

Definition of Open Source Software

Wikipedia definition

Software with its source code made available with a licence in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.

Two official definitions (no practical differences):

The Definition of Open Source Software

“Open source” doesn't just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open source software must comply with the following criteria:

  1. Free redistribution
  2. Source code
  3. Derived works
  4. Integrity of the author's source code
  5. No discrimination against persons or groups
  6. No discrimination against fields of endeavor
  7. Distribution of license
  8. License must not be specific to a product
  9. License must not restrict other software
  10. License must be technology-neutral

The Definition of Free Software

“Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Thus, free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.” We sometimes call it “libre software” to show we do not mean it is gratis.

SSC needs to establish its definition

Strategic Considerations

Possible Open Source Software Caveats

  • Lack of in-house expertise or support service providers
  • Security vulnerabilities found in the open source code
  • Support and maintenance costs may outweigh those of proprietary solutions and include “hidden” commitments
  • Additional development needed to enable integration with proprietary environment

OSS is not a fit for all situations

Government of Canada Context


  • 2004 – The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) publishes the Government of Canada’s OSS Position
  • 2009 – Public Services and Procurement issues an OSS Request for Information
  • 2012 – The National Research Council of Canada develops internal guidelines for OSS use and distribution

Usage Examples

  • Environment Canada weather infrastructure running primarily on OSS
  • TBS Government of Canada 2.0 tools (GCpedia and GCconnex) and the Open Data Platform
  • Multiple departments openly contributing to the Web Experience Toolkit OSS project on GitHub

Shared Services Canada Context

Desktop applications offered on-demand to employees

Firefox,Chrome,Gimp,Freeemind,Notepad++ logos

Application servers, databases and Web servers

Firefox,Chrome,Gimp,Freeemind,Notepad++ logos

Infrastructure and operating systems (official and inherited)

Firefox,Chrome,Gimp,Freeemind,Notepad++ logos

OSS components embedded in proprietary appliances

Other Government Open Source Software Policies

Many governments have published OSS policies (i.e. Australia, British Columbia, France, India, Italy, Quebec, the United Kingdom, the United States)


“[…] information and communications technology procurement processes must actively and fairly consider all types of available software.”

United Kingdom

“[…] actively and fairly consider open source solutions alongside proprietary ones in making procurement decisions.”

United States

“[…] agencies should analyze alternatives that include proprietary, open source and mixed source technologies.”

Shared Services Canada’s Draft Position on Open Source Software

  • For all software acquisition, open source solutions must be actively and fairly considered alongside proprietary ones
  • Acquisition decisions will be made on the basis of best value and fit to the business requirement, taking account of total lifetime cost of ownership of the solution, including exit and transition costs, after ensuring that solutions fulfil minimum and essential capability, security, scalability, transferability, support and manageability requirements
  • Where there is no significant overall (full-lifecycle) cost difference between open source and non-open source products, open source will be selected on the basis of its additional inherent flexibility
  • OSS support models and options must be evaluated and selected
  • All software, including OSS, must have a defined and managed lifecycle that is supported by a robust toolset (software acquisition and distribution guidelines)


Next Steps

Purpose Date
Consult with the AFAC Session 1: Today
Consult with SSC, central agencies and partner stakeholders November 2015 to February 2016
Consult with the AFAC Session 2: February 2016
Refine SSC’s OSS strategy and roadmap December 2015 to February 2016
Obtain SSC senior management’s approval March 2016
Consult with the AFAC Session 3: April 2016
Initiate the roadmap April 2016

Discussion Points – Roundtable

  • What are the industry’s best practices on OSS internal governance (e.g. acquisition guidelines, Total Cost of Ownership models)?
  • What support models have been most successful for OSS implementations?
  • Can you share additional use cases and opportunities relevant for SSC?
  • What are the best practices for integrating OSS solutions in an operational environment (e.g. service/system management, security, open standards)?
  • How can we properly assess overall software quality?

Appendix A – Proposed Forward Agenda

  FY 15-16 FY 15-16
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar TBD
Architecture Framework                   X
Big Data June 3
Session 1
    Sep 25
Session 2
      Jan 22
Session 3
Open Source Software           Nov 27
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Thank you