The German government recently signed a contract with IBM to move its federal, state and local agencies to Linux and open source software to facilitate the country's standardization on Linux, according to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Under the strategic agreement, IBM will help the government develop innovative IT solutions, including key IBM hardware, software and services solutions.

The Ministry and IBM signed a comprehensive contract that enables the administration at the federal, state and communal levels to buy IBM hardware and software, running Linux, under competitive prices.

"With the contract with IBM we meet three key targets," said the Federal Minister of Interior, Otto Schily. "We raise the level of IT security by avoiding monocultures, we lower the dependency on single software vendors and we reach cost savings in software and operation costs."

The contract will benefit not only the Federal Republic but also the states and communities, which "for the first time can now quickly and simply hold open source systems," Schily said.

"The decision to use open source products in the federal administration is not only a signal for the future for states and communities, but also a commitment to the IT industry in Germany," said Erwin Staudt, CEO of IBM Germany. "Our common work groups are designed to help in defining suitable projects for the administration and to help prepare the practical use of open source software."

Under the agreement, IBM will deliver its eServers hardware pre-installed with Linux. The systems will be distributed by the German SMB enterprise SuSE Linux AG, supporting the IT industry in Germany.

"Linux offers the best potential as an alternative to Windows for server operating systems to reach more heterogeneity in the area of software," Schily said. "The fact that we have an alternative to Windows with Linux gives us more independence as a large software customer and is a major contribution to the economic use of IT in the administration."

More Move to Linux

The German government joins a growing list of governments around the world moving to Linux. More than 75 IBM government customers are using Linux, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force, and Pinellas County Florida in the U.S. The list includes China, Singapore and Australia as well.

The FAA is implementing a pilot project in which it will use Linux for several key applications, including disaster recovery, network monitoring and trouble shooting, Web serving, file sharing and data mining.

Those applications are hosted by the USDA National Information Technology Center (NITC), and are supported by IBM Global Services, running on an IBM Linux mainframe and the WebSphere platform.

The USDA technology center provides IT services for 700,000 users in USDA agencies and the FAA. It's offering Linux support on its mainframe, which can be used to replace more than 100 Intel-based servers from vendors such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.

At the local level, Pinellas County, Fla., is using an IBM mainframe and WebSpere software running on Linux to create an index that houses more than 20 million entries for quick online searches, which are instrumental for local district attorneys. Pinellas County uses the technology to make it easier to access key information, such as court records, tax documents and property appraisals. The system handles about 500,000 hits a month and the site was projected to accommodate up to 5 million users by the end of the year.

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor