Almost open source at Unisys – and with support

Open source can bring innovation like no other technology can, says Unisys head

There is a big shift in the ICT industry in the way applications are developed and deployed, says Hans Sparkes, Unisys’ worldwide head of enterprise open source.

There is a general move away from proprietary code to open code, he says. However, it’s not necessarily to open source, but more to “less closed” software, he says.

“We encourage organisations to use open source as a change agent,” he says. “They may use some or no open source, but it gives organisations a chance to stop and evaluate where they are today and where they need to be in four or five years.”

Open source can bring innovation like no other technology can, he says.

“There is this whole movement [which is] about sharing and the freedom of source code, encouraging people to contribute and to bounce ideas off each other,” says Sparkes.

“You often hear about Linux, but there are 103,000 other open source projects, which represent huge amounts of ideas and good coding,” he adds.

He thinks that organisations will more and more move to mixed environments. To keep costs down, organisations may choose to move from proprietary to more open software — where it makes sense, he says.

There is an old perception that it is difficult to get support for open source, but now many companies offer enterprise class support, including Unisys, he says. The company has been working in this area “quietly, for a number of years”, he says.

He agrees that embracing open source is a radical step for Unisys.

“We have been perceived as being a mainframe company. We’ve had a very strong Microsoft practice,” he says. “[So] it is certainly a cultural shift in terms of the full open source model.”

But Unisys still recognises Microsoft.

“Traditional software is not going to go away, and it shouldn’t, because it meets a business need,” he says.

Open source is an enabler for Unisys future vision RTI (real time infrastructure), says Sparkes. By making the most of an organisation’s resources and aligning ICT with the business, RTI is designed to lower ICT infrastructure costs and to help organisations quickly adapt to change, according to Unisys.

RTI, as well as security, open source and outsourcing, are key areas that Unisys has identified as growth areas in the next five to ten years, says Simon Shiach, vice president of the RTI programme at Unisys.

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