Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Greg Schulz

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo

Open Source Cloud: Article

Putin Says "Da" to Free Software

As in Free Vodka, not Free Speech

A few months back, in a story mostly about Microsoft's complicated relationship with the Russian government and its seemingly dualistic role in the ongoing suppression of various free speech and human rights organizations, we also surfaced contemporaneous reports in the Russian language media about an indigenous, government-funded Linux initiative, called Linuksovskaya

The new "national operating system" was reported to be on an aggressive schedule and expected to be released some time in 2012.  Fresh reports this week from inside the country now indicate that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is now personally involved in making sure that happens in the second quarter and that by 2015 the whole government is running on free software.

PM Is Also for Product Manager
On December 17th, Putin signed Government Order No. 2299-p, titled Transition of Federal Executive Bodies and Agencies of the Federal Budget [to] the Use of Free Software from 2011 - 2015.  It's a fairly detailed 25-point plan outlining the events, deadlines, responsibilities, and expected outcomes of the country's five-year march to free and open software.  Those two words, "free" and "open" are used frequently throughout the document and the irony of that should be lost on nobody, given the source.

The plan has three parts covering educational, technical and organizational mandates, and, while it is ostensibly focused on software use in the government, there are hints in it that the mandatory use of free software may eventually extend beyond the government as well.

For example, the section covering education includes these two assignments to be shared by a number of government agencies including the ministries of Education, Communications, and Health:

"Development and approval of the list of educational programs and teaching materials recommended for use in educational institutions of higher, secondary and additional vocational training, offering professional training and (or) training of federal civil servants"

"Preparation and adoption of guidelines for educational institutions of higher education to replace the used in the learning process of proprietary software with free software"

Clearly Putin aims to rewire the entire Russian education system to preferentially use and teach open source software, from secondary school through vo-tech to university for the edification of all students, not just those being prepared for civil service.

Furthermore, elsewhere in the 25 action items there are directive for the adoption of new, non-proprietary formats for data storage and exchange.  Again, this is asserted for federal systems but it would seem that such requirements would extend from necessity to businesses and other non-governmental organizations whose IT infrastructure must interact with that of the government for things like taxes, security, and regulatory compliance.

The Ministries of Truth
One of the strangest provisions in the order, and one that appropriately calls to mind the doublethink of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, is the following.

Russia's Finance Ministry, Ministry of Communications of Russia, and the Russian Economic Development Ministry are directed to work in concert to:

"[Develop] changes in the instructions for fiscal accounting of intangible assets in order to create mechanisms [for] accounting [for] free software [resulting in an] act of the federal executive body [to] establish procedures for fiscal accounting of the use of free software."

This one is strange in more than one way, the most obvious one being that it introduces the oxymoronic idea of enacting new legislation to specify how free software will be financially accounted for.  In addition to that, though, is that it excludes a specific target.  While virtually every other similar provision in the order is specified as applying explicitly to "federal bodies of executive power", "subordinate budget institutions", "civil servants", or other apparatchiks, this one about accounting for free software has no narrowing criteria at all.

Add to that the ministries charged with carrying it out - Communications, Finance, and Economic Development.  Together they control most aspects of how business is done and how information technology is acquired and used in the country by both businesses and individuals.

This terse and cryptic provision of the act could be speaking volumes about the (non-)future of commercial western software in the Russian Federation.  If Putin wants to tax Microsoft, Oracle, and others out of existence in Russia, this would be a good way to start making that happen.  It is probably also worth noting that the deadline for this particular action item is one of the soonest, the third quarter of next year.

Free Speech, Nyet
One thing that the act does not say anything about at all, though, is why it is being enacted.  In our previous look at the Russian Linux initiative, money figured prominently there and so it would seem to here as well.

Even with being one of the largest state software pirates in the world, the Russian government currently still pays Microsoft and others many hundreds of millions of dollars every year to license software of many different kinds.  The new act dictates the adoption of free systems, middleware and applications software, so there is a lot of money to be saved through its enactment.  Or, is there?

The Russian government is spending $350M per year on the development of Linuksovskaya alone.  In addition the new act calls for "state support [of] Russian software developers involved in international projects for developing free software that can be used for purposes of federal executive bodies."  While it is not entirely clear what that means, it is plain that the act is about spending as well as saving money.

Given that nearly three quarters of all software used in Russia today is pirated, it could be truthfully said that the country has already enthusiastically embraced free software, at least after a fashion.  But, all those pirated commercial programs from the west lack something that western open source and indigenously produced free software would give the government of Vladimir Putin: source code control.

Having access to the source code of software used in Russian government agencies, businesses, schools and homes would give the Russian government a measure of control that another Vladimir - Russia's first post-imperial leader Vladimir Lenin - could not have even dreamed of.  It would give them the ability to instrument the nation's entire IT infrastructure for monitoring transactions, phone calls, and emails, and for censoring all types of digital media, including music, movies, and news, with previously unimaginable efficiency.

By some estimates, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), successor to the infamous KGB and Russia's current primary agency for counter-intelligence and surveillance, currently employs more than 350,000 people.  Add to those the people in many other agencies tasked with intelligence gathering/analysis, those responsible for various forms of oversight and enforcement in relation to transactions and communications, paid snitches, and the like.  The number of people on the Russian control payroll could be well more than half a million.  Analog tools, manual techniques, and black bags full of cash are very expensive ways to keep such a huge country in line.

Auto-snitch-equipped software in the form of Russian-branched open source and of native programs created in government-funded lab, aided by punitive taxes, fines, or other penalties to discourage the use paid and pirated software from elsewhere is a much cheaper way to do it.  In fact, it is virtually free.

More Stories By Tim Negris

Tim Negris is SVP, Marketing & Sales at Yottamine Analytics, a pioneering Big Data machine learning software company. He occasionally authors software industry news analysis and insights on Ulitzer.com, is a 25-year technology industry veteran with expertise in software development, database, networking, social media, cloud computing, mobile apps, analytics, and other enabling technologies.

He is recognized for ability to rapidly translate complex technical information and concepts into compelling, actionable knowledge. He is also widely credited with coining the term and co-developing the concept of the “Thin Client” computing model while working for Larry Ellison in the early days of Oracle.

Tim has also held a variety of executive and consulting roles in a numerous start-ups, and several established companies, including Sybase, Oracle, HP, Dell, and IBM. He is a frequent contributor to a number of publications and sites, focusing on technologies and their applications, and has written a number of advanced software applications for social media, video streaming, and music education.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...