French education authorities migrate to Linux

The French Ministry for Education has migrated 2,500 servers to Red Hat Enterprise Linux in a growing trend for Europe's public sector

The French Ministry for Education has migrated 2,500 servers across its 30 local education authorities to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as part of a strategy to invest in open-source solutions and avoid proprietary software lock-ins.

The public body's decision to migrate to Red Hat Linux follows the announcement last week that Red Hat's rival Novell is in the process of migrating 40 percent of Germany's university students and thousands of university staff to its Suse Linux products.

Michel Affre, IT systems manager at the French Ministry for Education, said: "Having first abandoned Gecos 7 and DPS 7, and gradually the AIX system, the ministry determined from 2000 that it would drastically lower its costs by definitively decoupling the operating-system supplier from the hardware supplier. In doing so, the ministry has standardised the information system architecture of each local education authority by running its application servers on Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating on standard servers."

Affre said that more than 3,000 servers now operate on Linux, with 80 percent of them running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The Linux servers support financial applications and tools for managing exams, staff, students and administrative activities. The ministry's applications suppliers, internal developers and external partners now develop on open standards to ensure compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other Linux distributions which the ministry uses.

The ministry said it was generally satisfied with the solutions provided by its previous IT suppliers, but that it was hampered by the high costs of software licences, hardware, support and business applications development.

For Red Hat, it isn't just the French public sector where it is making gains. Earlier this year, the Kingfisher Group migrated its 240 Castorama and Brico Dépôt stores to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The DIY retailer was able to halve the number of servers it required and increase server performance. Every one of the Kingfisher outlets in France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Russia is now equipped with Linux servers.

In addition to the French Ministry of Education and the German university deals, other major public Linux migrations are taking place in Amsterdam and nine other cities in the Netherlands.

The city governments of Vienna and Munich are also developing their Linux platforms, and the Swedish Armed Forces have followed suit.

However, Birmingham City Council axed its Linux rollout last year, because it found that its Microsoft-based platform was cheaper.