U.S. Health Department Signs Major Linux Deal With Novell

The deal gives Health and Human Services employees unlimited access to a range of Novell products, but there's no plan to unseat Microsoft software



The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has signed a multi-million-dollar, multi-year enterprise deal to use Linux and identity management products from Novell Inc., the vendor revealed on Tuesday.

Financial terms of the deal between Novell and HHS weren't disclosed. However a Novell spokesman says the agreement is the first "enterprise site license" between a large federal department and a Linux vendor.

Although HHS' National Institute of Health agency was "the driver" of the deal, under the contract, other HHS agencies are eligible to use Novell Linux and OpenSource technologies, the Novell spokesman says. NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts medical research.

The contract provides unlimited use of Novell products to about 70,000 at HHS, including about 30,000 NIH users. Under the arrangement Novell is providing to HHS "unlimited access, upgrade protection and technical support" for products, including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Novell Open Enterprise Server, Novell Linux Desktop, patch management, and a range of identity-based services for management, integration and security.

HHS is already a user of Novell products, however the new deal provides an enterprise license to Novell's Linux and OpenSource products, the spokesman says. The pact doesn't require HHS or NIH to migrate off other platforms used in their environments, he says.

An NIH source says there are no plans to "unseat" Microsoft products, which are widely used throughout HHS. However, Linux products provides "an attractive low unit cost" for thousands of scientific users within NIH and other HHS agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NIH official says.

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