Red Hat looks to capture more government IT spending

Red Hat has established a new business unit that will focus on government accounts, stepping up its efforts to earn a greater share of public-sector IT spending.

The division will be led by Paul Smith, previously vice president of government operations at Veritas Software, and will target governments worldwide, Red Hat said in a statement Wednesday. It also announced that the U.S. Department of Energy's national laboratories plan to deploy its software on desktops and servers.

Microsoft is also stepping up its efforts to reach more government customers. Bill Gates, its chairman and chief software architect, said this week that Microsoft will provide governments with early access to upcoming patches and work with them to address security emergencies.

Many governments, including those in China, North America and parts of Europe, are in the process of updating computer systems in order to share data more efficiently among departments and provide their citizens with more online services.

In the U.S., spending on IT by state and local governments has started to rebound after three flat years, according to research company IDC, which released a summary of a report on the topic Wednesday. Pent-up demand and new funding will fuel a compound annual growth rate in state IT spending of 7 percent over the next five years, making it a good time for IT vendors to target state and local governments, IDC said.

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