The NHS opens up to Linux

Novell has announced a £21.8 million contract with the NHS for a new identity management, application management and Linux-based server infrastructure that will improve the delivery of health services to UK citizens.

The overriding benefit of the switch to open source is significant cost cutting. “It secures the NHS an enterprise class open source platform along with, more importantly, affordable support” said Richard Granger, director general of NHS IT. The open source software will support the NHS’s infrastructure, covering more than 600,000 workstations, used by more than 100,000 doctors, 380,000 nurses and 50,000 other health care professionals.

It marks an encouraging step forward since last year’s ‘disappearance’ of the NHS White Paper on converting systems to open source. The NHS withdrew this document from public scrutiny after reverting to a more conservative stance on open source. The big fear then apparently, was that open source meant no guarantee for the maintenance of information systems.

Novell has managed to allay the unfounded fear that Open Source would leave public services (and one as crucial as the NHS!) without support. It will provide consulting resources to deliver the National Programme for IT and ensure best practices throughout all divisions.

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