Jul 4, 2022

Open Source Research: The UK government can greatly benefit from open source but over a third of its tech workers still don’t use it

Open Source Research: The UK government can greatly benefit from open source but over a third of its tech workers still don’t use it

UK Government has committed to being more open and using open source technologies, but Aiven’s research finds there’s a long way to go

HELSINKI, Finland, LONDON, United Kingdom, 4 July 2022 - Aiven, a leading technology company combining the best open source streaming and data management technologies with cloud infrastructure, today announced the results of its survey into the use of open source technology in the UK government. It found that 71% of UK government tech workers report the Government is now using more open source software compared to five years ago, yet over a third (38%) still don’t use any open source software in their department.

The UK Government has committed to being more open and using open source. The Technology Code of Practice, published in July 2021 by the Central Digital and Data Office encourages technology projects or programmes to “publish your code and use open source software to improve transparency, flexibility and accountability”.

Government Digital Service (GDS), which like the Central Digital and Data Office is a unit of the UK Government’s Cabinet Office, is an example of this progressive approach to open source. GDS, an Aiven customer, is a vision for a digital government and the realisation of “government as a platform.” It’s based around a common core of shared digital systems, technology, and processes on which it’s easy to build user-centric government services. Its open ethos has led to the department hosting over 1,500 repositories on its GitHub page, the most of any government department or agency.

The challenge is expanding GDS’s progressive approach to open source to a wider range of government departments.

The research found that although 62% of departments are using open source software, only 10% have fully open-sourced their code like GDS. 22% of departments publish some of their code, and the rest (30%) use open source but don’t publish their codebase.

However, there are good reasons to use open source, and these are well understood by the Government.

Open Source doesn’t just deliver savings, it helps with recruitment

One of the benefits of using open source within government includes but is not limited to the savings made on licensing costs, with the research finding that open source also has a big role to play in recruiting and retaining talent. Three quarters (75%) of respondents reported that using open source will help the UK government to hire more developers and software engineers.

When asked why it would help, the top reasons for this were found to be:

Heikki Nousiainen, CTO of Aiven commented, “The UK Government is clearly committed to open source. Not only is it more cost-effective and secure, but our research found that it’s also a great way to recruit and retain talent. In a competitive market, open source software means engineers can peek under the covers and see the types of projects they’ll be working on”.

“Working with Government Digital Service (GDS), we’ve directly seen the potential for open source in the public sector. The GOV.UK PaaS is a great example of how everyone from central government departments to local services like councils and fire departments can leverage non-proprietary code”.

“The challenge is that GDS is still in the minority amongst Government departments. There’s work to be done to get other branches to use and contribute to open source projects. But the benefits are clear – from collaboration to attracting talent, open source is the better way.”

Notes to editor: Aiven surveyed 103 UK Government technology workers between 24 and 30 June 2022.

About Aiven:

Headquartered in Helsinki and with hubs in Berlin, Boston, Paris, Toronto, Sydney, and Singapore, Aiven provides managed open source data technologies, like PostgreSQL, Kafka, and OpenSearch, on all major clouds. Through Aiven, developers can do what they do best: create applications. Meanwhile, Aiven does what they do best: manage cloud data infrastructure. Aiven enables customers to drive business results from open source that trigger true transformations far beyond their own backyard.

Most recently, Aiven achieved a $3B valuation and has now raised $420M total funding backed by its investors Atomico, Earlybird, First Fellow, IVP, Lifeline Ventures, Salesforce Ventures ,World Innovation Lab, Eurazeo, and Blackrock. To learn more about Aiven, visit aiven.io and follow @aiven_io on Twitter.