Ubuntu Linux boosted by 10,000 seat PC win

German insurance giant LVM embraces open

Canonical has taken the wraps off a morale-boosting deal that has seen German insurance giant LVM Versicherungen convert 10,000 PCs to use Ubuntu Linux across the company's operations.

The project included the conversion of 3,000 desktop and laptop computers in LVM's Muenster HQ with a further 7,000 in the company's agencies around Germany. The core software used by the company is LAS, a Java-based claims-processing application of its own design, backed by Lotus Notes, Adobe's Reader and the OpenOffice suite.

The news isn't entirely a surprise given that LVM has been using Ubuntu for some time. But converting a company's entire install base to use the software is still a modest coup.

LVM is also a demanding environment for any OS. The company's workforce is bolstered by a small army of self-employed and mobile sales representatives that sell insurance at street and living room level. The LAS system is described as being used by the sales team in an 'always-on' configuration.

The official release made no mention of the operating system being displaced but Techworld understands these were running older versions of Windows in recent years.

"Many companies are waking up to the realisation that there is an alternative to an endless cycle of licence fees that can amount to millions of dollars. We believe that the investment that LVM have made in converting to Ubuntu by engaging with Canonical will pay off many times," said Canonical's VP of business development, Steve George.

Could this another sign of wider mainstream acceptance for Linux or is it a one-off? Certainly, Germany has an interesting history of using Linux which tends to make large install stories look like eccentric deviation from the business conformity of Windows.

It probably comes down to the type of business and applications that need supporting. Few businesses buy Windows out of great love for Microsoft so much as the belief that Redmond is a rock of relative stability in an industry in which companies have in the past come and gone, leaving applications unsupported. Canonical's Ubuntu Linux model is now seen as stable enough to rival this in some business cases.

That said, last year the Swiss canton of Solothurn went back to Windows 7 after hitting turbulence in a long-running Debian/GNU migration. There were special circumstances in that project but the ice melts both ways.

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John E Dunn

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