New Linux initiative targets Germany’s financial sector

German banks and insurance companies interested in implementing open source Linux in their operations can click to a new portal for information about products, suppliers, applications and more.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc. are teaming on a new Linux financial Web site — — which the companies plan to launch on April 13, they said Wednesday in a joint statement. The site will be managed by Germany’s Institute for Information Technology at the University of Mannheim.

“VersiBa is a central platform where banks and insurance companies can receive in-depth information about the Linux operating system and applications running on Linux, including those developed specifically for the financial sector, as well as Linux-based office and communication software offerings from Novell, Red Hat and numerous other independent software vendors,” said Marina Walser, marketing director at Novell’s German subsidiary.

The portal will also provide information about hardware — mostly from HP — that runs the Linux operating system.

The site, which allows users to post questions and seek advice, serves as an information platform only, according to Walser. Banks and insurance companies that have decided to implement Linux must sign contracts directly with the suppliers for products and support.

“The three initiators of the VersiBa Web site are collaborating to make a wealth of information about Linux easily and quickly accessible to interested parties and to be available to answer questions,” Walser said. The portal will also make users aware of Linux discount initiatives, according to Walser.

Some suppliers are considering special prices for banks and insurance companies, she said.

HP and Novell are already offering discounts to organizations in Germany’s public sector.

Last month, for instance, Novell began offering a 60 percent discount on all products to public sector agencies and administrations in Germany with up to 500 computer users. The offer runs through Oct. 15. Last year, Novell and HP teamed to offer Linux-based products to the country’s huge public sector and collaborate in developing new Linux-based applications.

Novell has a similar partnership with IBM Corp. to supply attractively priced Linux-based IT products through a deal Big Blue reached with Suse Linux in 2002.

This month, Novell will open two new centres in Nuremberg, Germany, to help public sector organizations migrate to Linux: the “Porting & Migration Center” and the “Executive Briefing Center.”

Numerous banks around Europe are migrating to Linux to save money and increase the security of their IT systems. One of the most recent to join the open source community is Italy’s PBU Banca, which announced a deal with Red Hat on Thursday to migrate all its desktop computers and servers to Linux.