Red Hat gains US government certification

The U.S. Department of Defense Information Systems Agency has certified Linux company Red Hat Inc.'s Advanced Server operating system as a "Common Operating Environment," meaning the server product meets the agency's software security and interoperability specification.

The certification, announced by Red Hat officials Tuesday, is for Red Hat's top-of-the-line Linux Advanced Server running on IBM Corp.'s eServer xSeries 330 hardware. The Red Hat server is the first Linux product to receive this certification, according to Red Hat. The Common Operating Environment (COE) certification is designed to provide common IT architecture within the Department of Defense, as a way to promote interoperability among the department's computer systems.

The certification allows the Defense Department to "achieve the required level of conformance so vital to joint warfare by embracing the self-governance standards created by the Linux community," Matt Mleziva, program director of Defense Information Infrastructure for the U.S. Air Force, said in a Red Hat press release.

The certification will allow Red Hat to compete in the US$24 billion Defense Department IT market, and assures Defense Department users that applications can easily be ported to the Red Hat operating system from other certified operating systems, said Mark de Visser, the company's vice president of marketing. "The government has been experimenting with Linux on a pretty broad scale," de Visser added. "What this does is put it in a mainstream deployment within the government."

According to Red Hat, this Defense Department certification is "broadly recognized" within the U.S. government as a rigorous standard. The certification puts the server software on the Defense Department's approved list for mission-critical operating systems, said Red Hat, based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The decision to seek certification came after several conversations about using Linux between Red Hat and Defense Department IT workers, de Visser said. "We tried to work with them because we know how big of a market the Department of Defense is," he added. "It became one of the roadblocks to adoption that we learned about."

The certification effort took Red Hat more than six months.

The COE certification "expels yet another myth about the enterprise readiness of open source software," said Michael Tiemann, chief technical officer at Red Hat, in the press release.

The COE certification is mandated by the Defense Department Joint Technical Architecture for operating systems to be considered for deployment on command-and-control, computer, communications, and intelligence systems.

A handful of other operating systems are also certified under the COE: Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT, IBM's AIX, and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX.

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