Vietnam will ring in the Tet New Year on January 26 this year, and 2009 will be the Year of the Buffalo. For government servers, it appears that it will be the year of a few other animals as well, including the GNU and the Firefox.
This, according to Vietnam.net Bridge, which reports that yesterday the Ministry of Information and Communication issued an instruction to the State Agencies of Vietnam to move rapidly to open source software. More specifically, "by June 30, 2009, 100% of servers of IT divisions of government agencies must be installed with open source software; 100% of staffs at these IT divisions must be trained in the use of these software products and at least 50% use them proficiently." According to the article, the instruction is also applicable to provincial and municipal Departments of Information and Communications. By December 31, 70% of these offices must be in compliance.
Specific products mentioned for implementation include the following: OpenOffice, Mozilla ThunderBird and Mozilla FireFox email software, and Vietnam's own Unikey typing software. This would represent the 17th government to throw it's support behind ODF, based upon the count being kept by the ODF Alliance.
The article also alludes to requirements for conversion of work habits and documents as well as installation and training, requiring that agencies increase the percentage of documents and information exchanged using the new software. By December 31, 2010, "all staff at these agencies must be able to use open source software in their jobs." IT associations have been asked to assist state agencies in meeting the requests contained in the plan.
Intriguingly, the new policy requests that "computer traders not sell PCs installed with cracked software, but open source ones." This is presumably directed at resellers that would have to reconfigure inventory to deinstall purchased (and pirated) proprietary software, or order new hardware with that software lacking. But it may also be aimed at business partners of proprietary software vendors that may be asked to bundle traditional proprietary products in order to tempt government workers to continue to use the products with which they are familiar, rather than making use of the new open products for which they will be trained.
It’s hardly a surprise that Vietnam should make such an announcement. It has an increasingly sophisticated and growing IT industry, and like the governments of many other emerging nations, is interested in keeping IT budgets down while expanding IT services, as well as nurturing its own IT industry rather than shipping all of its IT budget dollars abroad. For nations throughout Asia and South America in particular, open source (and open standards compatible with open source) are becoming increasingly incorporated into enterprise infrastructure guidelines and procurement requirements.
Moreover, Vietnam (and other asian adopters of open source software) need not limit their procurement to occidental free software. The Asianux consortium includes numerous companies in its membership, including one Vietnamese company as well as China’s Red Hat, Japan’s Miracle Linux and Korea’s Haansoft. Presumably Vietnam will look to Asianux 3.0, Linux server offering that is not only optimized for Asian use, but for government use as well. Asianux also offers Linux based mobile, and mobile Internet products as well.
Those not familiar with Unikey can find a rather out of date English language version of the Unikey.org site here (both the Vietnamese language and English language home pages appear to have last been updated in 2006). On a quick Web search, the version referred to there (4.0) appears to be the most recent – and that release is designed to run only on various Windows platforms.
The full text of the original Ministry order (courtesy of Google Translate) is pasted in below.
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dated 02 3 2004
The Prime Minister approved the project on the overall application and development of open source software in Vietnam period 2004-2008, the Ministry of Information Information and Communications has issued the list of products open source software to meet the requirements for the organization to the state (including software: OpenOffice office, e-mail on Mozilla stations Thunderbird, the Mozilla Firefox web browser and type in English Unikey); Ministry of Science and Technology has developed documentation and use training software for many agencies, organizations across the state country.
To promote the use of free software open source (also known as open source software write-off is PMNM), contributing to limit the violation of software copyright, Minister of Information and Media indicator :
1. The unit responsible for information technology (IT) by the Ministry, Ministry of agencies, Governmental agencies (hereinafter called the ministries, departments) and the Department of Information and Communication (Department TT & TT) of provinces and cities directly under the Central Government (hereinafter referred to as provinces, cities):
a) Implement the installation and training, instructions to use the software above the staff in the units:
Latest to 30/6/2009, ensure 100% workstation unit responsible for IT Department and TT & TT installed, 100% staff is trained, using the instructions in the minimum 50% of staff can use the expertise in the job and can help guide the units under other ministries, departments, provinces and cities.
Latest date to 31/12/2009, ensure 70% workstation in the units under ministries, departments, provinces, cities are installed, 70% of staff are trained, guided to use, in which at least 40% of staff use the software in the above work.
There are plans to gradually increase the population of documents, materials, information exchange within the agencies, units of the ministries, departments, provincial, city editor, handled by the software mentioned above, ensure 31/12/2010 to most staff in the agencies, units of the ministries, departments, provinces, cities using the software in the above work.
b) Advising, proposed to the heads of agencies, departments, Chairman of provinces and cities: the solution, measures to ensure implementation of the tasks mentioned above, incorporating, including contents of this directive to plan the application of IT units, advocacy, mobilization, encourage emulation movement between units and individuals in the ministries, departments, provinces and cities City on the use of PMNM; bringing the IT applications and general use PMNM in particular to review the content to emulate, rewarded annually by the individual units.
c) The (at least 6 times a month) organization assessment and preliminary results, draw experience implementing the tasks, the report Ministries, departments, committees of provinces, cities and the Ministry of Information and Media.
2. The association and enterprise IT:
a) The IT associations organize practical work, enabling members to exchange information and experience to continuously improve energy exploitation, providing products, services PMNM; coordination, support unit responsible for IT, the Department of TT & TT perform tasks above; support the development of community PMNM Vietnamese; promote international cooperation on PMNM activities and links between community PMNM Vietnamese organizations, community PMNM world.
b) The business provides computer: Install the software above the computer when provided to agencies, state organizations, not to provide the market for computer software with no copyright legal.
c) facilities, business services and training IT: positive, active construction programs, curriculum and organization of training courses on PMNM; take the training to use the product PMNM the training of basic information, information office, information technology advanced.
d) The business software, business services IT: Capacity building services software in general and in particular for PMNM state agencies consider the software as a service (SaaS ); encourage the development of ideas, products and services based on PMNM.
3. The units of the Ministry of Information and Media:
a) The Information Technology:
– Host, in collaboration with IT Office under the Ministry of Science and Technology and other relevant units to update the list of PMNM meet requirements for the organization to the state; complete documents usage instructions; organization, community support the implementation of Vietnamese products PMNM;
– Investigation, survey, aggregate and provide up: the list, address and business services PMNM, facilities, business services training PMNM; versions installed, technical materials, guidelines using PMNM common;
– Guide, check and monitor the implementation of the Directive; received, general coordination with the units involved to resolve the authorities, or report the Minister to resolve the petitions, the Vietnam’s ministries, sectors and localities on the application and development PMNM, as well as difficulties arising in implementing Directive; report of the Minister of the results of the implementation.
b) Department of Applied Information Technology: The owner of incorporating, including the content of this directive, as well as content and tasks to promote the application PMNM in general, in the written regulations, instructions of IT applications, documents guiding plan, program, project applications in the IT operations of state agencies.
c) Information Center:
– Implementation of the tasks assigned to the unit responsible for IT in this Directive. To ensure the units of the Ministry in the use of software mentioned above;
– Host, in collaboration with the press, media propaganda, broadcast, raise awareness about the benefits of PMNM; mobilizing applications PMNM the activities of agencies, organizations, enterprises and people.
d) Institute of Software and Digital Content Vietnam Center rescue emergency computer Vietnam (VNCERT): Preparation of ready to support ministries, sectors and localities implemented using PMNM if on; coordinate with the IT review and update the list PMNM meet the requirements for the organization to the state.
a) The heads of agencies, units of the Ministry, heads the unit responsible for the Ministry of IT, industry, Director of TT & TT provinces, cities, the association, business IT has the responsibility of thoroughly spirit Directive, customized implementation of the tasks mentioned above, organizations quickly deploy and periodic reports results of the implementation.
b) The unit responsible for IT, the TT & TTT: The responsibility for the unit leaders directly responsible for promoting applications PMNM, is responsible for organizing implementation, management is over, check and evaluate the applications in PMNM units and units in other ministries, departments, provinces, cities themselves.
c) Chairman of the provinces, cities directly under the central government: The Department of TT & TT and other departments, agencies related to the adjustment of this Directive; active layout and taking part in total charge of the application and development of IT for its implementation using PMNM above, the mechanisms, policies, layout resources, create favorable conditions for the implementation. /.
Off topic (but not entirely). With all the ISO ODF/OOXML stuff, I totally lost track of what ever happened with ODF/OOXML in Massachusetts…
The quick answer: Massachusetts caved after (a) a change of administration, (b) a change of CIO, (c) Ecma approved OOXML and submitted it to ISO/IEC. So Massachusetts launched the fleet, but never brought it’s own ship home.
They also serve that, sadly, end up lost at sea.