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Open for the Future

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Programs such as the Army’s Future Combat Systems and organizations such as the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency are using open technologies using non-proprietary software.

Some analysts tout open source software as one of the next great technology waves, comparable in its disruptive effects to personal computing and the Internet. That future is already partly here for the U.S. military, with programs such as the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) and organizations such as the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) using open technologies.

Open source technologies are making inroads among Department of Defense acquisitions as a result of potential benefits such as low cost, flexibility of use and modification, and the lack of vendor lock-in.

Open source technology refers to non-proprietary software that is continually developed and improved by a community of thousands of developers around the world. These systems freely disseminate their source codes and make use of open standards and interfaces. The operating system Linux is a prime example of open technology development.

Open technologies provide two related advantages over their proprietary alternatives. They reduce the cost of software development and cut the time in which innovations in software can be incorporated in systems.

A roadmap for the adoption of open technologies was released last year by the deputy under secretary of defense for advanced systems and concepts. That paper proposed adopting open source infrastructure and technologies and applying open source to collaborative technologies being implemented by DoD.

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