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Will the world’s largest employer be going open source with its software?

April 10, 2018    |    Company News    |    Lauren Elkins

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 isn’t likely showing up on your news feed. You’d have to dig through hundreds of pages of the Department of Defense funding proposal bill to find it. Nobody does that as a hobby, right? But if you did choose to take time away from your busy schedule to do so, you’d find an amendment co-sponsored by Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). This amendment proposed a big change for the Pentagon: going open source.

We are built on OpenVPN, the open-source, award-winning and top-notch secure VPN software. Open source has a ton of benefits, including a great list that we highlighted in a previous blog post.

Open source, basically, means using publicly accessible code published for all to see and read. Could the Pentagon really go all in with this kind of transparency?

According to the World Economic Forum’s research, the US Department of Defense is the largest employer in the world with a workforce of 3.2 million people (2015 data). When you picture that workforce, you might be thinking of all of the men and women in the military with the Pentagon serving as their headquarters. There’s a lot more than uniforms, boots and rifles that go into their inventory. An organization of that size absolutely depends on technology.

This possible shift to open source isn’t a sudden decision by Warren and Rounds. In 2016, senior military leaders expressed concern over a lack of technical superiority, especially in comparison to the talent in places such as Silicon Valley. In a post that year by the Center for New American Security, more specifics of these concerns were highlighted as well as strong analytical points about open source software. “In recent years, the private sector has become increasingly reliant on open source software, which underpins critical software infrastructure from enterprise applications to smartphones and advances from artificial intelligence to electric cars.”

To put it simply: the future is open source.

In our opinion.

More from CNAS: “Unless the Department [of Defense] is able to accelerate how it procures, builds, and delivers software, it will be left behind.”

The NDAA was signed and approved December 12, 2017. The open source initiative hasn’t been mentioned for a few months, though. When do you think we’ll hear about it next?

Better Safe Than Sorry