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Red Hat Gets a Healthy Option

Linux vendor Red Hat is getting into the healthcare business.

In partnership with healthcare solutions provider McKesson, Red Hat announced today the Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform. The new healthcare product is part of a renewed focus by Red Hat to provide vertical market solutions. The move comes at a key time as the Linux vendor continues to face challenges from a bevy of competitors including Oracle , Microsoft  and Novell .

Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform is an integrated solution stack made up of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and JBoss middleware that is integrated with the Horizon Clinical Platform from healthcare software vendor McKesson.

"A lot of hospitals are on older technologies like AS/400 and mainframes so this really helps hospitals and health care providers have a more scalable solution," Joanne Rohde, Red Hat's executive vice-president of worldwide operations, told internetnews.com.

As part of the integrated solution the Red Hat offering is also providing best practices for deploying the McKesson software with RHEL so that healthcare providers are fully tuned and up and running quickly. Rohde noted that McKesson's Horizons software has 9 different applications ranging from acute care records to billing and with the Red Hat Enterprise Healthcare Platform it's simplified all on one platform.

"There is a need to have integrated healthcare and this is the first step," Rohde said. "One of the important aspects of this partnership is that it paves the way for open standards on what lies under the hood."

What lies under the hood are health care records and medical information and the ability for systems to interoperate. The ultimate goal of such an integrated healthcare solution, according to Rohde, is to provide better health though better information.

As opposed to legacy healthcare systems, which don't necessarily scale across the myriad of devices in modern health care environment, Rodhe argued that with Red Hat the solution will work on everything from the backbone to mobile clients.

"In the old infrastructure they had to do it piecemeal," Rohde said. "This will allow them to go from front to back with one solution."

Integration with other systems and migration from other systems is also a key strength of the Red Hat solution with good reason.

"It is very rare in any company that Red Hat goes into that it would be Red Hat top to bottom when we start," Rohde explained. "By definition all companies have some kind of legacy platform and part of our success has been our ability to interoperate with them."

In addition to healthcare, Rodhe noted Red Hat plans increased emphasis on solutions for the Telco and Financial Services markets this year as well.

Red Hat is also on the verge of releasing its new flagship Linux version, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL 5). Rodhe noted that RHEL 5 will add further value to Red Hat's vertical customers without costing them more money. The RHEL 5 update will be delivered as part of a RHEL subscription without additional cost.

"Unlike Microsoft's Vista, Red Hat clients that are already on RHEL 4 will have a marginal cost of zero and they can upgrade when they are ready, " Rodhe said. "It is inherent in our subscription system to provide more value in each release."