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VSLive! Keynote: NYC Sees More .NET and Open Source Development

New York City is stepping up its .NET development efforts, but at the same time it is moving aggressively to expand use of open source technology, according to the city's top IT official.

Paul Cosgrave, commissioner of New York's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), talked up his agency's efforts to deliver both a centralized shared infrastructure, while providing flexibility to the 100-plus agencies it supports. His statements were part of the opening keynote of the VSLive! New York conference.

The City's central services infrastructure has long been based on mainframe and Java-based development, Cosgrave said in an interview. He does not see that changing. However a growing number of agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Protection, are heavily engaged with .NET development projects.

"We are finding it easier to in many ways to build in the .NET world than the Java world, so we are expanding our use of Microsoft," Cosgrave said. The large number of .NET developers and improvements to the .NET Framework, are among the factors driving the shift.

"I think there was a tendency to believe that we needed to be in the Unix-Java world to build robust things and we're now realizing we can do that in the .NET world as well. And it's easier to build in the .NET world," Cosgrave said.

Because the City is developing a services oriented architecture (SOA), the ability to interact should be less of an issue he said. However, he admitted the SOA effort, based primarily on BEA and Weblogic message busses, is still at an early phase of evolution.

"As long as the technologies are compatible with more of a data sharing model or a SOA type of model we are trying to build, we will be fine," he said. "With .NET we just want it to be compatible with our SOA direction.

In his keynote address, Cosgrave pointed to an agreement last week by the City University of New York (CUNY), Intel, and Red Hat to establish the New York City Open Source Solutions Lab. The center will work as a test facility for open source solutions, Cosgrave said.

"It's really to look at open software in new ways," he said. "We've been using Linux on our mainframe environment for quite some time and we have some Unix-developed systems that are being migrated to Linux, so we have a lot of interest in Linux as an operating system."

Appointed by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg two years ago, Cosgrave used his VSLive! keynote to talk up the ambitious 311 phone-based municipal services access system, which currently fields 40,000 calls per day. "It was a major change and has been one of the most successful turnarounds of customer service in any city," Cosgrave said. "It's been a very aggressive growing service and will continue to be so."

Key to that will be extending the 311 service to the NYC.gov site, with a goal toward providing support services that rival anything in the commercial sector. "When we are able to provide all the services as seamless as a bank, we will know we have succeeded in what we want to do," he said.

Among other things, Cosgrave said there is a strong focus on building custom maps, in the model of Google Earth and Microsoft Live Maps. In addition, there will be an emphasis on supporting photographic data, for example allowing a citizen to send a photo of a pothole or broken fire hydrant, he said.

Read our extended Q&A with Paul Cosgrove here.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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