Europe buys into Red Hat, declares V Day

Red Hat notched two big customer wins recently.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
3 min read

In two big announcements today, Red Hat got its own version of V-Day, claiming big customer wins with FASS.se, the main medicines portal run by the Swedish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, and the French Ministry for Education.

FASS.se comes at the expense of Sun, while the French Ministry of Education deal comes at the expense of IBM (and unnamed others). All's fair in love and open source....

The details behind the deals are important, and surprising:

FASS.se, for example, involves a large number of servers and the reason given for switching them is surprising:
[FASS.se] has migrated its servers from Sun Solaris to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. With Red Hat solutions, FASS.se is experiencing approximately 40 percent cost savings and has seen its new operational environment double functions on all levels....

The CTO of FASS.se explains:

Our main reason for migrating to Red Hat Enterprise Linux was our recognition of a need for making FASS.se's operations more efficient. During our evaluations, Red Hat Enterprise Linux became the obvious alternative because of the cost savings and increased performance delivered by the solution. It was ultimately an easy decision to select Red Hat solutions and migrate all of our servers to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

This is a big shift from earlier messaging around Linux. It's no longer a cost issue. It's a performance issue. (Those who hope to clone Red Hat or other Linux products need to realize that their pricing message is a few years old...and is stale.) Most would agree that Solaris is a heavy-duty, high-performance operating system. Given this fact, and yet given the switch from Solaris to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, clearly Linux has grown up.

This shift away from Unix continues with the French Ministry of Education. This organization was looking for a way out of its proprietary AIX system, and wanted to give its vendor less control over it (and hence save money):

Having first abandoned GECOS 7 and DPS 7, and gradually the AIX system, the Ministry determined that since 2000 it would drastically lower its costs by definitively decoupling the operating system supplier from the hardware supplier....In doing so, the Ministry has standardized the information system architecture of each local education authority by running its application servers on Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating on standard servers.

More than 3,000 servers - which represent 80 to 120 servers per local education authority - now operate on Linux, with 80 percent of them running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux....All of our applications, whether financial applications or tools for managing exams, staff, students or everyday administrative activities, are now supported by Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Our applications suppliers, internal developers and external partners now develop on open standards to ensure compatibility with Linux and specifically with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The French Ministry for Education was generally satisfied with the solutions provided by its previous IT suppliers, but were limited by the high costs of hardware, licences, support and business applications development. Moving toward standards-based infrastructure, and particularly toward open source, was a strategic and profitable decision that was enthusiastically received by the young recruits in the Ministry's IT departments.

Proprietary, non-standard systems appeal to the old guard of IT. Open source, open standards systems appeal to the new breed. If you want to hire the best new talent, you've got to be an open-source shop.

These are big wins for Red Hat, obviously, but also big wins for open source. It's great to see customers regaining control of their IT, rather than ceding this control to vendors, who may (or may not) have their best interests at heart.