Connecting the Country Through Enterprise FOSS Strategies

Even though I participate in the Hanoi LUG, I have not been playing a very active role however, in events like the International Software Freedom Day SFD, we help the LUG by providing free Internet Connectivity and drinking Beer with them" says 32 years old Vietnamese, VuThe BinH. BinH carries an Engineer Certificate in Electronic Engineering & Information Technology, a Bachelors degree in English and Masters of Economics from Vietnam.

"My Linux usage traits themselves are very interesting as I first used Slackware Linux from 1996-1999, then I had to fall back on to Windows from 1999-2002 due to some unavoidable issues switching back to SUSE Linux from 2003-2004 and back to Windows again. However, I have been continuously using FOSS applications on top of Windows and am now exploring to migrate to Ubuntu Linux.

Enterprise Challenge, "I worked for a computer technology company in Technical Support from 1995-97 and since 1997 have been working with the State Government owned IOIT - Institute of Information Technology (Hanoi). One of the biggest challenges I have faced within my work with FOSS is creating its awareness. Many people I have engaged with consider FOSS to be 'Free' as in totally free of cost. It has always been very hard to convince them that they have to spend something to obtain packaged FOSS applications. Another major concern for us is Software Piracy where the country's piracy rate may be estimated to be anywhere in between 95-97% whereas there is only a very few number of Licensed Software being used by both the Government and Academia only".

"Outlining the problems being faced by us to promote FOSS as a guideline for action and support, the largest lacking we face are Marketing Budgets for launching and funding effective communication programmes, marketing collateral and positioning strategies and establishing visibility through Mass Media. Adding to this situation, the FOSS community at the moment is comprised just of techies and IT people don't have such money for backing FOSS marketing."

Alternatives to achieve the unachievable, "At the moment, we are using traditional but effective means to promote FOSS including Websites, Support Forums, Discussion Lists, free Linux and FOSS trainings at Universities so that we can utilize existing infrastructure, Software Freedom Day Celebrations in line with the international events worldwide."

Much awaited National FOSS Policy, "The Government of Vietnam has been investing both time and money in drawing up a National FOSS Master Plan and deliverables are being much awaited including documentation, policies and plans that will only be there when they are officially released but we are very positive and optimistic for the future of support by the Government for FOSS".

Recent experiences, "On behalf of IOIT, I am also working with NetNam Corporation, also a State owned company established in 1994 running under IOIT that is both an Internet Service and Enterprise Networking Solution Provider. CPV-Communists Party of Vietnam is our major client and we won a project to implement a security solution connecting all CPV offices throughout the country. The CPV has 2 million party members almost all the high ranking people and the organization's offices spanning the country. This involved developing an Enterprise Networking Solution to connect 64 Provinces and 700 Districts protected by a Network Security Solution for running moderation on 700 computer nodes spread throughout the provincial and district levels."

"At the top level, they have an IT center, for each Province level they have one IT guy and none at district levels. We trained the people at Province level for managing the implementation. The solution is a CPV-WAN that is organized by creating three main centres connected with each other using NGN Next Generation Technology".

"The installation of the gateway includes a Firewall, IDS/Snort, FOSS Applications, IPtables, FWBuilder, NMAP. We did this on top of a localized Red Hat Linux Distro. We customizes the FOSS security applications, made an install and conducted extensive trainings to implement them nationwide. All nodes have been installed and are running well using the NGN technology."

Challenges ahead, "The Linux Distro was homemade by a 3rd party using Red Hat, localized by a Vietnamese company and they are unable to provide us with upgrades and hardware support since they do not have the money to upgrade the Distro. Secondly, the system does not have automatic update facility, instead we create a CD copy as updates become available, for example, the IDS virus definition signatures and a copy is manually sent off on a CD to all centres and their administrators/managers have to be update the system manually. We are interested in carrying out web-based interface integrations and manage the security product more effectively. In order to manage the system manage the firewall, we require the development of a desktop based system so that we can make things simple for the administrators to manage. We are already taking too much risks delivering only the basic security functions to protect against basic attacks but we need to prepare for advanced attack attempts."

author: Fouad Bajwa