Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Stackify Blog, Vaibhaw Pandey, Pat Romanski

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
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
BnkToTheFuture.com is the largest online investment platform for investing in FinTech, Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. We believe the future of finance looks very different from the past and we aim to invest and provide trading opportunities for qualifying investors that want to build a portfolio in the sector in compliance with international financial regulations.
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
We are given a desktop platform with Java 8 or Java 9 installed and seek to find a way to deploy high-performance Java applications that use Java 3D and/or Jogl without having to run an installer. We are subject to the constraint that the applications be signed and deployed so that they can be run in a trusted environment (i.e., outside of the sandbox). Further, we seek to do this in a way that does not depend on bundling a JRE with our applications, as this makes downloads and installations rat...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...