U.S. Navy Will Torpedo Proprietary Systems

After years of embracing Microsoft and other proprietary systems, The U.S. Navy has announced that that era must come to an end, according to Federal Computer Week. The benefits to Apple are as yet unknown.

In front of a Navy IT audience last week, Navy Vice Admiral Mark Edwards made the announcement. "The days of proprietary technology must come to an end," he said. "We will no longer accept systems that couple hardware, software and data."

The Admiral said that the Navy was falling behind in technology and spending too much money in the process.

"We can?t accept the increasing costs of maintaining our present-day capabilities," Adm. Edwards said. ?In the civilian marketplace, it?s just the opposite. Some private-sector concerns are cutting their costs by 90 percent while expanding their performance."

Adm. Edwards wants to move to an open network architecture and make data easier to migrate. "Above all, we must break the stovepipes of data so that we can share information across domains," he added.

The Admiral compared the situation to the Cold War with the Soviet Union. "Because we put them in a position of always having to catch up, the mere threat of the Strategic Defense Initiative [SDI] crippled the Soviet ability to continue the arms race and enabled our side to dictate terms. If we remain behind in technology, a future adversary will eventually bring terms to us."

For years, the U.S. Navy adamantly ignored Apple products based on open standards in OS technologies, databases and networking and went one hundred percent Microsoft, believing that a partnership with Microsoft was the way to go. Now, the costs and technology price, according the Admiral, have been too much to bear.

However, the benefit to Apple, which seeks to increase its Federal sales substantially, it not clear. While the UNIX core of Mac OS X, Darwin, is 100 percent open source, other technologies in Mac OS X that give Apple a competitive advantage will likely remain closely held. In situations like this, Linux is almost always the winner. Even so, the process of turning away from highly proprietary systems may open the door for Apple, just a little, when before it was firmly shut.