Open source is many things to different people. For us at Red Hat, open source is innovation. Freedom to create. Excellence, low cost and flexibility. But above all, open source is a valuable tool to produce, share and improve ideas.

During Red Hat Summit - our annual convention which was held in San Francisco this year - the Oportunidades Program of the Secretariat of Social Development of Mexico (SEDESOL) was awarded the Red Hat Innovator of the Year award for its creative use of open source to innovate in its field of activities.

This is an international award, selected from a pool of five finalists. This year, two of those finalists were from Latin America: the Argentine healthcare giant OSDE Binario and SEDESOL Oportunidades. Without a doubt this is just a token of the creative capacity of the professionals and companies in the region, which, despite the significant differences among countries, face similar challenges, including a lack of resources, unfavorable economic environments, changing "rules of the game" (in terms of their fast-changing industries), and also the need to have processes and systems that would enable them to manage more accurate data for decision-making in an increasingly competitive international scenario.

It is an honor for us to have a customer of Red Hat Mexico like SEDESOL - which is constantly working to improve the development and well-being of the people of Mexico, helping them emerge from poverty and fostering equal opportunities. The team, led by Emilio Patricio Gómez, Deputy Director of Information Systems and Technological Development of the National Coordination of the Oportunidades Program, intuitively explored the use of our Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform to create a scalable system that would enable it to manage a large volume of data. Together with Red Hat Consulting and Training, we set their idea in motion (a mobile application to survey and process data) and conceived "the perfect solution," in Emilio’s own words.

SEDESOL undoubtedly faced a very contemporary challenge: the collection, review and management of a huge amount of information. Let’s consider the following data: In Mexico, around 20 percent of the population is considered to be suffering from extreme poverty. Of this percentage, about 4.7 million are children with unmet basic needs who require access to healthcare, food and education. It is a big country, with 32 states, some of which are quite difficult to travel.

The social development program carried out by the federal government takes care of 6.5 million geographically distributed families with different categories of subsidies (health, food, education). Coupled with this, the budget for system deployment is scarce.

Emilio Patricio found a solution in the open source world. He achieved a 40 percent reduction in expenditures compared with what a similar investment in proprietary software would have cost, and a 99.9 percent system availability against the 95 percent availability provided by the previous model.

Open source enables organizations to stay one step ahead of the innovation curve. In the case of Latin America as an emerging region, this helps bridge the gap that separates us from the developed world. There are plenty of examples in all industries: government, finance, energy, telecommunications, and retail. Companies of various sectors that rely on Red Hat solutions to move into the future and make a difference. We are thrilled to walk down this road of innovation with our customers.