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Mandrakesoft Replaces NT in France

Linux is in and an aging version of Microsoft's enterprise Windows operating system is out after the French Ministry of Equipment decided to replace 1,500 Windows NT servers with Mandrakelinux Corporate servers.

Mandrakesoft officials say the French government is committed to "promote technologies based on open standards, to open public markets to more competition and also to reduce IT costs."

The migration is expected to last until the end of 2005.

"We are delighted to see Mandrakesoft's work in terms of server products and services crystallize in such a large project," said Francois Bancilhon, Mandrakesoft CEO, in a statement. "This is the proof that Mandrakesoft solutions now fit perfectly with enterprise scale requirements."

Gael Duval, Mandrakelinux founder and Mandrakesoft co-founder, said the migration will save the French government from a hefty price of Microsoft Windows licenses. However, how much it is actually saving is questionable, since Microsoft is no longer fully supporting NT, which is eight years old.

The French move to Linux, which began last November, affects three-fourths of the ministry's total number of office and infrastructure Windows NT servers in 160 locations.

Mandrakesoft brokered a services and support contract with the French Ministry, which gives the recovering company a guaranteed revenue in the form of membership to the Mandrakesoft Corporate Club and dedicated customer support.

Earlier this month, Mandrakesoft boosted its support capabilities with the roughly $500,000 stock purchase of French support and services firm Edge-IT, which gave the primarily consumer-focused Linux distributor some much-needed corporate know-how.

The acquisition was part of the company's efforts to retool its operations after filing for and emerging from the French version of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. With its versions of Mandrakelinux OS available as a free download, the company couldn't bring enough users into its fold.

Reorganized and ready for enterprise-level business, Mandrakesoft has picked a good time to make its enterprise push. According to a report published Thursday by research firm IDC, Western European organizations will spend $98 million on services and support surrounding Linux, open source and free software projects. That number is expected to rise to $228 million in the next four years.

"In the past, internal IT staff have been responsible for selecting and implementing open source and free software solutions," Dominique Raviart, IDC European Services group senior research analyst, said in the report.

Raviart expects enterprise adoption of open source and free software projects to remain relatively small in the medium-term future, with most of the growth in systems integration.

The main reason for the pickup, the IDC report maintains, is companies are looking at Linux and free software as a cost-cutting measure, especially the public sector in Germany and France.

"At this stage, a number of them will begin migration projects," said Lionel Lamy, European Infrastructure Management Services program manager, in a statement.

Mandrakesoft's already beaten them to the punch.