White House Uses Open Source To Open Government - InformationWeek
Software // Information Management
11:37 AM
Connect Directly

White House Uses Open Source To Open Government

The Whitehouse.gov site now runs the open source Drupal content management system, which includes social networking tools that can be used for communications and participatory government.

The White House Web site now runs on open source. Over the weekend, Whitehouse.gov moved to a software stack that includes the open source Drupal content management system and Apache Solr search server.

One of the main reasons for the change was to build more collaboration features into WhiteHouse.gov, according to the Obama administration. In addition to providing content management, Drupal supports blogs, comments, polls, and the ability to create user profiles.

"We wanted to improve the tools used by thousands of people who come to Whitehouse.gov to engage with White House officials, and each other, in meaningful ways," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in an e-mail. "We now have a technology platform to get more and more voices on the site. This is state-of-the-art technology, and the government is a participant in it."

Drupal creator Dries Buytaert said cost cutting and flexibility also factored into the switch in platforms. Buytaert is co-founder and CTO of commercial open source software company Acquia, which helped in development of the site.

"It's a great fit because they want to reduce costs and be able to act quickly, and Drupal provides them the modularity to do so," Buytaert said in an interview. "Drupal gives them a traditional content management system combined with social features, which enables open communication and participation, which aligns very well with the goals of the Obama administration."

Other vendors involved in the project include Akamai, General Dynamics, Terremark for Web hosting, and Drupal development company Phase II.

In a statement on behalf of advocacy group Open Source for America, Bill Vass, president and COO of Sun Microsystems Federal, points to the open source Web platform as evidence of Obama's push for open, transparent government. "By choosing open source software as the defining technology of Whitehouse.gov, it is clear that the President means business," Vass said.

It's not the first time that the Obama administration has demonstrated a propensity for open source. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra sometimes mentions open source along with cloud computing for their potential in lowering IT costs. Other federal agencies that use Drupal include the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and Education and the General Service Administration.

However, Drupal isn't necessarily a cure-all for government IT. The first version of stimulus-tracking site Recovery.gov ran on Drupal, but switched to Microsoft's SharePoint. And Drupal has been criticized by some for complexities that hinder usability.

InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll