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Open Source: Article

Opening the Way for Software Vendors

Global open source vendors gain new leg up in selling to US agencies, thanks to favorable Talend ruling

Open-source provider Talend has received a favorable advisory ruling from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency concerning the government's ability to purchase open-source software, opening the way for all software vendors to increase their share of business with US federal agencies.

The CBP has determined that software products comply with the Trade Agreement Act (TAA) when that software is manufactured in what is known as a "designated country," even if the majority of its source code was created in a non-designated country. [Disclosure: Talend is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Many software vendors -- whether they are open-source based or not -- will benefit from the ruling.

The US TAA says that government agencies may acquire only products or services produced in certain countries -- known as designated countries. This has sometimes hampered the agencies from acquiring open-source software if some of the code was developed outside of those countries, even when the majority of production took place inside designated countries.

“Country of origin” issues sometimes have been used as a pretext to make a case against the procurement of open-source software. Talend conducts the vast majority of its software production in the U.S., France or Germany, but like many manufacturers, it also seeks talent in countries that can fall outside those considered designated countries

"With this finding, any other company that meets the same criteria can get the same approval," said Yves de Montcheuil, Vice President of Marketing at Talend. "And then government buying can meet the trade agreement status. The process can now be easily repeated."

While governments around the world have been moving to embrace open source for a long time, adoption has been slow and inconsistent in the U.S., though it is steadily growing as more federal agencies revise their guidelines and regulations, and some states pass laws requiring the consideration of open-source options.

Useful guidance

"The Talend Ruling is significant because government users now have useful guidance specifically addressing open source software that is developed and substantially transformed in a designated country, but also includes, or is based upon, source code from a non-designated country," said Fern Lavallee, DLA Piper LLP, counsel to Talend. "The timing of this ruling is right given the Department of Defense’s well publicized attention and commitment to Better Buying Power and DoD’s recent Open Systems Architecture initiative."

"This is great news for everyone in the software industry," said Bertrand Diard, co-founder and CEO of Talend. "While the news is significant for Talend and offers an opportunity for us to address needs in the federal space, our belief is that many software vendors -- whether they are open-source based or not -- will benefit from the ruling."

This is great news for everyone in the software industry.

A copy of the advisory ruling can be obtained by emailing [email protected]

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is currently and significantly revising the December 2011 draft of the “DoD Open Systems Architecture, Contract Guidebook for Program Managers.” The guidance document, expect by the end of 2012, helps DoD program managers use Open System Architecture principles for National Security Systems.

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