Consolidation has been a hot topic in government conversations of late. As more and more Internet-based activities move toward being cloud-based, the acceptance of open standards within the government has become a necessity. A recent article by Tim Solms on Fedscoop outlined how and why the move to open standards is a move towards securing the future of federal networks.

The key word to focus on in the cause of this migration to open standards is consolidation. Whereas in the past the connotation of that word alluded to a physical connection, today it means something more abstract. Consolidation is the convergence of networks while also bringing together disparate technologies. The government is looking for better ways to create an efficient and cost-effective network. Ensuring that technological infrastructure works together throughout all branches and agencies is a vital component in achieving that goal.

As you can imagine, there are very real security risks involved here. The article points out that “it can be extremely challenging for network administrators to converge and combine closed, proprietary software solutions that are inherently incompatible. This incompatibility can create significant security holes while undermining goals for a more streamlined network.”

Outdated legacy software that was built on proprietary standards is still prevalent in today’s federal agencies. That outdated technology can mean major security risks, particularly given the increased sophistication of cybercriminals. However, software built using an open standard development community, “coupled with the expertise of companies who specialize in open software to provide timely support and guarantee the quality, allows users to have the latest updates and patches that can immediately and easily be installed.” In other words, the cost is too high not to move to open standards.

As those familiar with our OpenStand Principles know, our belief in Collective Empowerment is a building block to innovation. By nature, software built on open standards is more compatible and transparent. Creating usable, functional and flexible networks across federal agencies allows users to securely share and access information, something the federal government cannot do without in today’s information age.

To read more on the open data in government debate, check out our post Open Data for Groups, Governments, and Communities Around the World, Brought to You by Open Standards.