THE UK government published its list of 12 approved suppliers of software to schools this afternoon and it did not include Novell.
But Sirius Corporation is on the list, making it the first Open Source outfit ever to get on an approved list of suppliers to UK government.
Novell had been shortlisted with sixteen other firms in July. Becta, the education quango that appointed the list, had told them it was looking for firms that could supply both straight and Open Source software, said one of the firms and who preferred not to be named.
Jill Henry, Novell's partner director, told the INQ yesterday that it had made it onto the list. Today she said she meant that Novell had been on the shortlist. Novell had in fact resigned from the bidding in July.
"What Becta wanted was companies who had an ecommerce gateway for education organisations to procure open source and proprietary solutions," said Henry.
"I spoke to Becta at that point and said, 'We don't think you are looking for a vendor, we think you are looking for a capability supplier who can draw on their relationships with the appropriate vendors," said Henry.
Novell opted instead to court the independent software partners who were on the list to persuade them to sell its software. They are firms that have a considerable vested interest and long history selling proprietary software licenses and supping on proprietary marketing budgets. Their interest is Open Source is likely to be demand driven.
That leaves Sirius, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last Wednesday. It is hoping to turn £2m of business this year and has built a reputation selling Open Source systems to the likes of Specsavers, BOC, Excite, Standard Life, AXA and Pentax, in no particular order.
Sirius also implemented and supports the Squid Open Source web proxy, amongst other things, for the Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning, which has 2,500 schools and 250,000 children online daily.
The complete list of approved suppliers at the UK public education sector's £80m table, called the Software for Educational Institutions Framework, are as follows:
Civica Services Ltd
Insight Direct Ltd
Joskos Solutions Ltd
Pugh Computers Ltd
Ramesys (e-business services) Ltd.
The INQ is still waiting for a response from the Office for Government Commerce, the government's procurement sheriff, on why its taken so long to give official status to Open Source suppliers. Becta published a written statement about the appointments today, which also neglected to note the historic appointment of Sirius. µ
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