K.S. Bhaskar of Sanchez Computer Associates is the recipient of the 2002 GNU/Linux Medical News Achievement Award. The award is given to the individual who has contributed the most to medical open source software as decided by a panel of judges. The panel consisted of Tim Cook of OpenParadigms, Joseph Dalmolin of e-cology, Dr. Adrian Midgley and myself. Bhaskar convinced his employer to open source their GT.M MUMPS compiler, thereby making a completely free VistA system possible. Bhaskar says open sourcing was “A strategic investment.”
Bhaskar further says that it is an ongoing experiment that has so far led to an increase in the purchase of GT.M licenses and an increase in GT.M business for the company. The company has a dual-licensing arrangement. A GPL’ed license on x86/Linux platforms, with proprietary licensing on other platforms.
GT.M is used in banking as well as health care where 24/365 availability is required. Customers feel secure with open-sourcing of GT.M so that if Sanchez goes out of business they are not stranded.
Open sourcing GT.M was not an easy undertaking: “It is difficult to overcome pre-conceived notions. Sometimes, you have to put your career on the line.”
Bhaskar reports that the support cost to Sanchez for open-sourcing is ‘very small’. “We pay Microsoft a lot of money and get very little [support] for it. We run Redhat free and don’t have problems with it.” Saying that Linux is ‘amazingly stable’.