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[ossig] [bytesforall_floss] Digest Number 28



Title: BytesForAll_FLOSS

Dear Community Members,

The BytesForAll FLOSS Consortium promotes knowledge sharing and communication amongst the Free and Open Source Software community in Asia. Founded with the support of BytesForAll Team including Fredrick Noronha, Partha and myself from FOSSFP: Free and Open Source Software Foundation of Pakistan. The Consortium brings together organizations, knowledge resources, localization efforts and opportunities to work and promote the FOSS Movement together.

 

Kindly read below the signature two interesting articles including how an Indian Company is building upon Linux to create distinction in its services and how FOSS is being adopted within the United Nations System. The list is moderated and we attempt to remove any spam. 

 

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Regards
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Fouad Riaz Bajwa

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BytesForAll FLOSS Consortium


BytesForAll_FLOSS

Messages In This Digest (2 Messages)

1.

Netcore bets on Linux From: Frederick Noronha

2.

Free and Open Source Software at the United Nations From: Frederick Noronha

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Messages

1.

Netcore bets on Linux

Posted by: "Frederick Noronha" fred@bytesforall.org   fredericknoronha

Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:32 am (PST)

http://www.expresscomputeronline.com/20060710/management03.shtml

Netcore bets on Linux

Netcore plans to widen its client base through partnerships and by
creating awareness about its Linux-based products. Vinita Gupta
reports

The biggest problem for an IT company nowadays is to differentiate
itself from the crowd. One factor that can help is a focussed
approach.

"Emergic as a brand name represents three things—emerging technology,
emerging in the market, and emerging in the SMB and enterprise
segments"

- Rajesh Jain
MD & CEO
Netcore

Netcore has grown over the past six years in terms of customer
acquisitions and spread its wings geographically. Its founder, MD and
CEO, Rajesh Jain, is quite well-known for his online deals. IndiaWorld
Communication, acquired by Satyam in November 1999, was a success when
it was launched in 1994 with Web sites comprising khel.com, khoj.com,
samachar.com and bawarchi.com.

Emergic, the brand name for Netcore products, captivates what the
company plans to achieve. Says Jain: "Emergic as a brand name
represents three things—emerging technology, emerging in the market,
and emerging in the SMB and enterprise segments." It has been the
consistent focus of the company to introduce technology innovation
that is affordable and effective.

"Convincing an IT manager to adopt Linux is quite difficult
as many people still have apprehensions about the platform"

- Kalpit Jain
VP, Technology
Netcore

>From e-mail to VPN, firewalls to bandwidth management, virus
protection to spam filtering, Netcore's products are providing
solutions to build the back-end infrastructure in large enterprises
and small-and medium-sized businesses alike.

The company also offers products such as BlogStreet, India's first
portal on blogs providing analytics, search and directory services.
Emergic CleanMail is a hosted anti-virus and anti-spam solution and
messaging service that is used by organisations in the banking,
logistics, finance and other industry verticals in India and other
developing countries. Emergic FlexiMail is a mail hosting component
where mail space can be offered to customers. The Emergic Mail Server,
a new product, is a Linux-based messaging and security suite. It has a
proxy server, mail server, firewall and anti-virus solution built into
it.

Adds Kalpit Jain, the company's VP for Technology, "We keep on
building new features into our products."

In Linux they trust

Right from the IndiaWorld days, Netcore's focus has been to develop
and market affordable software solutions. The company has been
providing Linux-based solutions. Rajesh Jain's first endeavour,
IndiaWorld, was an early user of Linux. Since then all the development
of the company has been done on Linux.

Netcore's reasons for using Linux-based solutions are its open,
secure, reliable and stable standards-based nature. Since they have
been using the Linux platform for some time now, Kalpit feels that
their expertise leaves no scope for competition. Along with this he
also believes that customers are much more open these days to adopting
Linux-based solutions. "Many people are ready to transfer from the
Windows platform to Linux," he states.
Some of Netcore's clients
Banking

Financial Services

Manufacturing

Advertising & Media

Logistics
Bank of India Kotak Securities VIP (Blow Plast Group) Grey India
Lee & Muirhead
IDBI Bank ShareKhan (SSKI) Supreme Industries FCB Ulka Jeena & Co
Development Credit Bank NSDL Onida Lowe Lintas JM Baxi Group
IndusInd Bank Sundaram Mutual Fund Emco India Leo Burnett Patel Roadways

Role of partners

For a products-based company, having a strong sales team is crucial if
it is to be a success. To start with, Netcore used to sell directly to
its customers, but couldn't attain the desired growth rate. This made
the company realise that to grow rapidly it needed partners. Today,
the company's 20 partners pitch its products in India and eight
international markets.

The company also realised that partnering with companies which have a
good customer base would help it broaden its own customer base.
Another criterion in picking partners has been to choose companies
that are into providing end-to-end solutions. Take for instance their
tie-up with HCL. Netcore's two products, EmergicMail and CleanMail,
are being bundled with HCL products. Says Kalpit, "We have a flexible
relationship with HCL wherein they can offer these solutions to any
customer based on the customer's requirements."

Some of Netcore's other partners are Orient Techno-logies, Prolink
Computers and Wysetek in Mumbai; Veeras Infotech in Chennai; Advance
Ecom in Coimbatore; and Microzol and Green Vision in Delhi. "We are
not looking at too many partners but believe in having a few strategic
partners," notes Kalpit.

The strategy Netcore is adopting is to team up with an aggressive
partner and then create awareness about its Linux-based products; this
because Kalpit feels that people still have a mental block when it
comes to Linux.

Growing steadily

Netcore has built a client base of over 500 companies, and its
Linux-based messaging and security solutions are being used at 800
locations in India and abroad. In 2005 it added about 180 customers.
It is focussing on SMBs and enterprises along with the government
sector. As of today, Netcore is present in 11 countries including
Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Kalpit says, "We have also grown in terms of people. Five years back
we had 20-25 people, now we have around 80. Our offices are in
Bangalore, Chennai and Pune."

Its clients include the likes of IDBI Principal, Birla Global, ICICI
Prudential, Raymond, Bombay Dyeing, Unichem, Cipla, Mudra and
Infomedia.

Major achievements

Kalpit prefers to count achievement in terms of customer satisfaction,
delivering the right solution, and the problems solved. For instance,
before Godrej & Boyce implemented Emergic CleanMail, it faced a lot of
complaints related to spam and viruses. After the implementation their
spam has reduced by 90 percent and this has helped in optimum usage of
bandwidth.

For Mangal Keshav Securities, scalability of their mailing solution
was an issue. Says Kalpit, "In this case the issue was one of lack of
scalability of the mailing solution. Also, the company needed an
integrated LAN security and controlled browsing solution. We provided
them the Emergic Mailserv, which today caters to around 25,000 e-mail
accounts. Also, the firewall and proxy servers made them realise that
Netcore could cater to all their messaging and security needs."

Moving ahead

The major challenge Netcore faces is to move in sync with the latest
technology. As Kalpit says, "Convincing an IT manager to adopt Linux
is quite difficult as many people still have apprehensions about the
platform."

Despite these problems, the company has an ambitious road-map ahead.
Netcore is planning to come up with new products. The company is also
looking at expanding its presence in the international market. For
this they are in the process of strengthening their partner base.
Along with these activities they are planning to open a 24x7 call
centre in Mumbai; this centre will cater to their international
customers.

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2.

Free and Open Source Software at the United Nations

Posted by: "Frederick Noronha" fred@bytesforall.org   fredericknoronha

Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:33 am (PST)

http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2006/07/20/un_and_foss.html

Free and Open Source Software at the United Nations
by David Boswell
07/20/2006

Advances in technology have revolutionized the way people live, learn
and work, but these benefits have not spread around the world evenly.
A digital divide exists between communities in their access to
computers, the Internet, and other technologies. The United Nations is
aware of the importance of including technology development as part of
a larger effort to bridge this global digital divide. This article
looks at how various United Nations agencies use free and open source
software to meet the goal of putting technology at the service of
people around the world.
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The Millennium Development Goals

The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of eight targets to
help end extreme poverty worldwide by 2015. The United Nations
Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, created in
March 2001, has worked to advance the development goals and targets of
the UN, in particular those set by the Millennium Declaration. The
Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) group replaced UNICTTF,
and now has the task of providing an open policy dialogue on the role
of information and communication technologies in development.

In their report The Role of Information and Communication Technologies
in Global Development: Analyses and Policy Recommendations, the Task
Force states that information and communication technologies will
increasingly become one of the main enablers in the pursuit of poverty
alleviation and wealth creation in developed and developing countries
alike. It's easy to overlook the importance of technology in
development, though. When people are starving and don't have access to
clean water, does it matter if they have access to the Internet?
Technology is not an end in itself in these situations, but it is a
tool to achieve wider goals such as eradicating hunger and achieving
universal primary education.

To help raise awareness of the potential for free and open source
software in this area, various UN organizations and nonprofits have
created the FOSS: Policy and Development Implications (FOSS-PDI)
initiative. Part of this initiative consists of a mailing list that
discusses specific FOSS applications that address the different MDGs,
information about how different countries are using open source
software, and coordination for events being planned around the world.
International Open Source Network

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) created the
International Open Source Network (IOSN) with the goal of helping
developing countries in the Asia-Pacific Region achieve rapid and
sustained economic and social development by using free and open
source software. To achieve this goal, the IOSN acts as an open source
information repository, maintains a database of FOSS programmers and
experts, offers technical support and training, and provides research
and development grants to programmers to work on localization efforts
and local font development. IOSN also organizes and sponsors events to
help advocate on behalf of FOSS and creates primers and guides for the
use of FOSS in education, government, and other areas.

IOSN hosts information about how different countries are getting
involved in the open source community. The IOSN country report for Sri
Lanka has information about how local developers quickly built the
Sahana Disaster Management System to help coordinate the relief effort
after the country was hit by a tsunami in 2004. Other IOSN Sri Lanka
contributions include several Sinhala-enabled Linux distributions and
a Linux download accelerator. There are additional country reports for
Cambodia, China, India, and Malaysia.

Although the IOSN effort works only within the Asia-Pacific region,
the UNDP is promoting the use of FOSS in other developing countries.
For example, there is an initiative to support local e-government
projects in South-Eastern Europe. The pilot project was started in
Bulgaria, and there are plans to extend to Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Romania. A (PDF) report
on progress of the South-Eastern Europe e-government project shows
that eight municipalities have migrated to FOSS, providing cost
savings and increased effectiveness of services.

The project is part of a larger UNDP Global Programme focused on
developing national capacities by establishing a series of regional
centers using FOSS. Currently, all coordination happens on a national
and regional scale, because there is considerable opposition to using
FOSS for development coming from parts of the developed world. Most of
the traditional software industry has its base in the developed world;
there is concern that promoting FOSS could hurt this industry. From
the developing countries' perspective, however, FOSS is a way to
introduce competition in order to lower costs and expand options. The
different views of the role of software in development have hindered
the UN's ability to create a single coherent strategy for FOSS to
apply to all member states.
Free & Open Source Software Portal

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) has also recently become interested in using free and open
source software as part of its own programs. UNESCO's mission is to
promote international collaboration through education, science, and
culture. They have recognized that FOSS can play a key role in
extending and disseminating human knowledge. In a review of UNESCO's
activities in this area, Jean-Claude Dauphin, Computer Systems Analyst
from the Information Society Division, states that "the software
development models used by FOSS movements are also good examples of
the power of sharing knowledge. These models encourage international
solidarity, collaboration, and voluntary community work."

UNESCO has created a Free & Open Source Software Portal that both
promotes existing FOSS projects and hosts free and open source
software created and released by the United Nations. The portal,
started in November 2001, focuses on providing software that matches
UNESCO's fields of competence: specifically, information processing
applications and education tools. Future additions to the portal may
add collaborative development tools that would allow for certain
developers to host their own projects on the site.

UNESCO has developed several projects in cooperation with libraries,
universities, and programmers from many different countries. They
include:

* IDAMS (Internationally Developed Data Analysis and Management
Software), a software package used for data mining, numerical
information processing, and statistical analysis.
* Open eNRICH, a tool that assists with the creation and sharing
of locally relevant content and knowledge between communities.
* CDS/ISIS (Computerized Documentation Service/Integrated Set of
Information Systems), an information storage and retrieval system used
by libraries around the world.
* Greenstone, a suite of software for building and distributing
digital library collections.
* The Virtual Laboratory Toolkit, a suite of communication tools
that allow people separated physically to coordinate on scientific
projects.

UNESCO's CDS/ISIS software is part of a (PDF) multilingual library in
Amman, Jordan. Greenstone is in use in Africa as part of training
local archivists and librarians to create and customize digital
libraries. Free software is also part of UNESCO's radio-in-a-box
prototype that features a self-contained laptop and transmitter that
can quickly set up a broadcasting station in remote areas or in
disaster areas with damaged infrastructure.
One Laptop per Child

In 2002, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a challenge to Silicon
Valley to create the technologies that would enable the digital
have-nots to enter the Information Age. He urged the information
technology industry to "broaden its horizon and bring more of its
remarkable dynamism and innovation to the developing world." He also
announced that the General Assembly was planning to hold a World
Summit on the Information Society in 2003 in Geneva and in 2005 in
Tunis.

Many organizations and groups have worked to answer this challenge.
There have been several low-cost computing initiatives started in the
last few years, including India's Simputer project, Intel's Community
PC program, and AMD's 50x15 initiative. Perhaps the most well known of
these efforts is the $100 laptop project. The One Laptop Per Child
(OLPC) organization is a nonprofit created by Nicholas Negroponte, the
former director of MIT's Media Lab. The OLPC's goal is to create a
laptop to sell for $100 each to governments to give away at no cost to
school-aged children.

The $100 laptop, designed specifically for use in developing
countries, should reach production in 2007. The laptops will consume
very low amounts of energy and will come with a crank to provide
manual power without the need to plug in to an existing power source.
FOSS is a crucial component to the success of this initiative. The
laptop will come installed with free and open source software in order
to help reach the $100 price point and to allow for the creation of
localized education applications and content.

At the summit in Tunis in 2005, Kofi Annan helped Negroponte
demonstrate an OLPC prototype. The United Nation's involvement with
the project took a step forward the next year at the 2006 World
Economic Forum in Davos. At Davos, Kemal Dervis, head of the UNDP,
signed a memorandum of understanding with the OLPC stating that the
UNDP will work closely with OLPC and other UN agencies on the ground
to assist national governments deploy the laptops to targeted public
schools.
Other UN Agencies

Several other UN agencies also use FOSS to support their own missions.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has
promoted the benefits of FOSS for trade through reports and
conferences. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO) has developed several of FOSS applications that provide
spatial mapping functions, food production analysis tools, and animal
disease data management.

In April 2006, the United Nations University (UNU) hosted a conference
about knowledge issues in open source and medicine that analyzed the
role of FOSS and other collaborative models of knowledge production in
economic development. The UNU's International Institute for Software
Technology (IIST), has also recently launched the Global Desktop
Project as part of an effort to increase the number of open source
developers in East Asia. The UNU is also hosting UNeGov.net, a site
that provides a forum for exchanging experiences, sharing technical
information, and reaching consensus on the best practices in the field
of electronic governance.
Too Early to Tell

The United Nation uses FOSS in various ways across several different
agencies. Most of the initiatives have only begun recently, so it is
too early to tell if the promise of information technology in general
and of free and open source software in particular will be able to
live up to their potential. There is no doubt that technological
advances can improve people's lives around the world, but will
software that is freely available and free to customize be able to
play a part in bridging the gap between those that already have access
to technology and those that do not?

David Boswell has been involved in the Mozilla community for more than
six years. He is also a coauthor of Creating Applications with Mozilla
and helped launch mozdev.org.
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