Fundecyt is now using its experience of deploying LinEx to help other government agencies across the region to deploy open source software. The Ministry of Culture is part-way through a migration, having migrated around 60 percent of its 380 desktops, while the regional Ministry of Health will eventually run all medical applications on Linux servers and is migrating 14,000 PCs at health centres to the open source operating system.
The Ministry of Health project will result in the "largest Linux-based IT system in Spain", according to IBM, which is partnering on the implementation. Started at the end of 2004, the mammoth deployment is expected to take four years and involves the re-engineering and integration of various systems involved in healthcare. Fourteen thousand healthcare professionals based in 14 hospitals and over 400 primary care units across Extremadura will eventually have access to the system.
Last month IBM completed the installation of the servers that will eventually run the new healthcare system. The 28 IBM xSeries, and six p5-570 servers are all running Linux. Luis Javier Bonilla, the programme manager for the project at IBM, says the first primary care centre will start running parts of the new Linux-based system in June 2005.
At present, the health centres are primarily reliant on manual processes to transfer patients to hospitals and are unable to access patient records and lab results held at hospitals. From June, the pilot primary care centre will have access to the hospital legacy systems, allowing doctors to have digital access to patient information such as lab results. Doctors will also be able to carry out some administrative processes, such as discharging patients, using the new integrated system.
Eventually all processes will be transferred from the legacy systems to the integrated system, which will give every healthcare professional access to all the patient data, such as lab results and prescription information from any portal. All 400 primary care centres across the region will have access to the system by September 2006, after which the system will be rolled out to the 14 hospitals, according to Bonilla.
The completion of this system is likely to help sway critics of open source, who claim that Linux is not suitable for mission-criticalapplications. As Bonilla succinctly put it: "Medical systems cannot go down, ever, because people will die."
Following Extremadura's lead, a number of other Spanish provinces have started migration projects including two of the largest provinces Andalusia and Valencia, as well as one of the smaller provinces Castile-la-mancha. The government of Extremadura is also working with various regional authorities in South America to help the Spanish-speaking organisations migrate to open source. With this kind of momentum, President Rodriguez' predictions that the region's salvation lies with technical innovation seems increasingly likely to come true.