Today, German Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily, and Erwin Staudt, head of IBM Germany, signed a cooperation agreement regarding the promotion of open computer operating systems and software in Germany's public administration. For the first time, this agreement enables the German government, federal states and communes to acquire software based on the Linux operating system at reduced rates. IBM supports the usage of open systems; all of its software and hardware products are compatible with Linux.
This cooperation agreement is based on an initiative I took following the terrorist attacks of September 11. Back then, I endeavored to contact a number of important industry representatives of the German IT sector. My goal was to secure Germany's IT infrastructures with security partnerships between public and private sectors. To that end, the use of secure systems and software is a prerequisite. The newly signed cooperation agreement will achieve three goals: increase the IT security by avoiding monocultures, reduce the dependencies from individual software providers, and save money for the software acquisition and operating expenses. Thus, we spearhead the promotion of a greater variety in the IT landscape. The savings do not only help the Federal Government, but also the states and communes, who can now obtain products for Open Source environments in a rapid, easy, and uncomplicated manner," said Interior Minister Schily.
Within the master agreement, individual contracts are made for various fields of cooperation, such as the general conditions providing the German federal government offices with economic solutions for the increased use of Open Source software or other IBM products. In addition, a strategic cooperation management will be set up, to contribute to the creation of innovative and reusable IT solutions for the federal administration. Erwin Staudt, chairman of management at IBM Germany, explains as follows: "The decision to use Open Source products in the federal administration represents a trend-setting signal for the states and communes, as well as a commitment to Germany as an IT location. From now on, our joint task forces will assist in defining suitable projects in the administration and will prepare the productive usage of Open Source software."
The Linux operating system preinstalled on shipped IBM servers comes from SUSE Linux AG, a German medium-size company. Thereby, the cooperation also strengthens Germany as IT location.
"The master agreement with IBM offers all government offices the opportunity to attain a higher level of software heterogeneity. The fact that Linux is an alternative to the Windows operating system gives us [the German government] independence and a stronger customer position, as a large software customer. Therefore, Linux contributes considerably to the efficiency of IT deployment in the administration," explained Schily.
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