Siemens gets serious about open source
Siemens’ outsourcing unit is snapping up some of South Africa’s brightest open source minds as it readies to offer large-scale open source services to clients. Going, as it does, head-to-head with the likes of IBM and T-Systems, the company is hoping its open source strategy will find a new niche in an already highly-competitive market.
One of those niches, says Felix Honigwachs, head of Siemens’ open source centre of competency, is the South African public sector. Siemens already has relationships with a number of government departments including he departments of science and technology and labour, says Honigwachs. The open source unit will look to expand these to include open source desktop, server and networking services.
“Previously Siemens was a wholly Microsoft house and there was no inclination to offer open source,” he says. Recently, however, Siemens identified open source as having a “very viable business case”.
With the South African government making very public declarations of interest in open source software, Honigwachs could well be on the right track. “Open source gives us a competitive advantage,” he says.
Siemens already has in place partnerships and agreements with Red Hat, Canonical and enterprise content management suite providers Alfresco.
With a Red Hat partnership in place Siemens will also be looking to use JBoss in place of WebSphere for its middleware needs.
On the desktop, Honigwachs says that the unit plans to offer either Red Hat or Ubuntu. “The advantage of having both Red Hat desktops and servers is the ability to have a single management tool. But in government there is a preference for Ubuntu. We like Ubuntu and we have good quality skills on Ubuntu,” he says referring to the likes of the recently-appointed Ross Addis. A long-time Linux advocate, Addis was instrumental in establishing Impi Linux – both the original version and later the Ubuntu-based version.
Honigwachs says that the open source centre of competency was started at Siemens just three months ago and has already started hiring the skilled staff it needs. The unit will initially be looking to employ between 6 and 10 Linux-skilled staff, some of which will be “upskilled” internally with the remainder sourced from outside the company.
Siemens’ open source skills will work within the existing outsourcing unit.
Updated: This is an initiative of the Outsourcing unit of Siemens IT Solutions and Services in South Africa.