According to Alastair Otter of MyBroadband, whilst the South African government has been a long advocate of open source software, 72% of IT "companies that supply technology to government favour open standards".
Minister Fraser-Moleketi was spot on the money by noting that open source and open standards were important to government because they ensured interoperability and portability. If my straw poll at Cloud Camp London is anything to go on then this is a concern for almost all business users of SaaS and the cloud computing world.
Obviously vendors want to create some form of competitive advantage for themselves, so some sort of compromise is needed between interoperability, portability and vendor competition. A solution to this conundrum is the use open sourced standards, as in the standard itself is an operational piece of open source code.
Whilst compliance to the standard means matching the open source code exactly in terms of functionality, this still leaves plenty of room for operational advantages in how the code is implemented. This approach is suitable for those activities that are ubiquitous, well defined and in reality a cost of doing business i.e. those suitable to an "as a service" world. However despite this, many vendors and their pundits seem prepared to champion SaaS as a new sales vehicle but at the same time they appear unwilling to engage in a world of service competition.
This is why we need people like Fraser-Moleketi fighting our corner.