Days after published reports circulated that the city of Paris was mulling an across-the-board migration from Windows and other Microsoft technology to open source, it appears a French government agency has taken the plunge.
The French Ministry of Equipment and Transport, which maintains infrastructure such as roads, airports and seaports, announced today it is in the middle of a migration project that will conclude next year in which 1,500 office and infrastructure Windows NT servers will be moved out, replaced by Mandrakelinux Corporate servers.
The deal is worth millions of Euros according to Mandrakesoft co-founder Gael Duval, who added that the ministry's biggest savings will come from no longer paying Windows licensing fees.
The migration began in November, managed by the ministry's central administration for IT. The ministry has 100,000 agents located throughout the country, providing central and local administration to its 160 remote offices, as well as technical and navigation services. More than 60,000 workstations and 2,000 NT servers will be replaced.
More than 100 servers have already deployed, Duval said. More are scheduled to be deployed on a monthly basis until the project is completed.
"Mandrakesoft trained all the administrators for the ministry's agents throughout France," Duval said. "They are a Unix and Windows culture. It was not a problem for them to become Mandrakelinux experts. As in any migration project, the biggest challenge is to have people change their day to day habits."
Microsoft announced last year that it would no longer support Windows NT beyond the end of this year. In response, several big hardware vendors and leading Linux distributors have been courting NT users with varied success.
IBM, for example, announced an NT-to-Linux migration program in January at LinuxWorld. Last month, IBM Linux general manager Jim Stallings told SearchEnterpriseLinux.com that he knew of 60,000 migrations from NT to Linux in the first quarter, and that some enterprises were taking the occasion to move wholesale off of Windows to Linux.
Other governments worldwide have followed suit. Munich, Germany, and Bergen, Norway, are the two most high-profile examples, with Munich moving 14,000 desktops off of Windows to SuSE Linux and Bergen moving 100 application servers from Windows and its Oracle databases from HP-UX.
Paris, meanwhile, is being courted heavily by Microsoft, which reportedly has offered the French capital as much as a 60% discount to keep its business.
Mandrakesoft, based in France and one of the top distributors in Europe, developed two specific distributions for the project based on Mandrakelinux Corporate Server. It partnered with Dell on this project, and the servers arrived pre-configured from the factory, Duval said.
Mandrake Corporate Server 2.1 was released in November and was marketed as an "all-in-one enterprise solution" by Mandrakesoft. Based on the 2.4 Linux kernel, version 2.1 gives administrators their choice of several journalized file systems, a DHCP server, the Apache Web server, the Postfix E-mail Server, the Squid Proxy Server, the Samba file and print server, LDAP mail directory and more.
Duval said the ministry's configuration includes more than 1,500 open source software packages. He added that Mandrakesoft will be announcing in the next few months "other very large French governmental organizations that have switched."
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Dig Deeper on Linux servers
The past few years have been a roller coaster ride for Paris-based Mandrakesoft, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2003, emerged in March 2004 with a nine-month plan to repay its creditors, thanks in part to the company's first profitable quarter in the Q4 2003.
Since then, the company has restructured its business to focus on Linux, slashed costs, simplified its business structure and developed some high-margin revenue lines.
In this exclusive interview, Mandrakesoft co-founder Gael Duval speaks with SearchEnterpriseLinux.com about successfully emerging from bankruptcy protection, the latest happenings in Linux and the direction he hopes to take the company.